Ovarian cancer

What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer starts in the ovary, a small organ in the female reproductive system that makes female hormones and holds egg cells which, when fertilized, can develop into a fetus.

What causes ovarian cancer?
Generally, the causes of ovarian cancer are unknown. In some women, the cancer develops due to an inherited gene mutation. Scientists have yet to discover why this mutation is present in some and not in others. Fewer than 5% of all ovarian cancers have a hereditary predisposition, however if you have a family history of cancer, especially a mother, daughter or sister who has had ovarian cancer, then you are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Other risk factors include:
• Being over age 55
• Previous history of cancer – women who have had cancer of the breast, uterus, colon or rectum have a higher risk of developing the disease
• Never having been pregnant before

Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that a woman will definitely get ovarian cancer but can increase her chances of developing it.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
Symptoms of ovarian cancer may include the following, although these can also be indicative of other conditions:
• Abdominal/pelvic pain
• Vaginal bleeding
• Bloating
• Swollen abdomen
• Nausea
• Irregular periods or bleeding after menopause
• Change in bowel habits

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
To test for ovarian cancer, physicians may use the CA 125 blood test, which is a useful indicator of ovarian tumors but may be normal in half the patients. CT scans or ultrasounds of the pelvis along with imaging of the chest are usually done for to properly stage the disease. A laparoscopy may also be used to learn whether cancer has spread.

How is ovarian cancer treated at KHCC? 
At KHCC, a team of highly specialized oncologists, surgeons and gynecologists handle the treatment of ovarian cancer patients. The treating physician will present the case to the MDC panel who will determine the right treatment for the patient depending on how much the cancer has spread throughout the body.

Depending on the size of the tumor and stage of diagnosis, treatment options may vary. A specialized surgeon may perform surgery to remove the tumor along with other procedures to contain and prevent the cancer from spreading. Chemotherapy is usually used in post-operative treatment for all patients with ovarian cancer except patients who had a complete removal of ovarian tumors and are therefore considered low risk.

At KHCC, ovarian cancer patients receive top quality care from a multidisciplinary team of gynecology oncology specialists that is entirely devoted to diagnosing and treating gynecology cancers.

Supportive Care
The gynecology cancer multidisciplinary clinic works in close cooperation with other departments at KHCC so that ovarian cancer patients receive the most comprehensive care possible. Supportive care services at KHCC include: