Saturday, January 14, 2006

cancer, ovarian

Malignant tumors of the ovary are frequently far advanced when they are first detected and are thus inoperable. It is believed many of these tumors arise from ovarian cysts. The greatest number of patients appear between the ages 50 to 80 years of age, but the peak incidence is about age 77. Usually there are not symptoms with ovarian cancer but some women complain of vague abdominal symptoms for a long time before the diagnosis is made. Pressure on the bladder may occur, leading to frequent urination. It is, therefore, important to rule out ovarian cancer in any woman over 40 years of age, especially if she has a history of multiple spontaneous abortions, involuntary sterility, enlarged abdomen, abnormal vaginal bleeding, or a family history of ovarian cancer.
The ovary is unique in that not only does it give rise to a great number of tumors, but it is the recipient of tumor metastases from other organs. Two of the most common cancers that metastasize to the ovaries are breast and colon cancers.
Treatment for carcinoma of the ovary is surgical removal of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, and appendix. This is commonly followed by chemotherapy rather than radiation therapy. Since many of these patients are elderly, it is important to evaluate the renal function and electrocardiogram before certain drugs are used.
Management of the patient following surgery is similar to that following general abdominal surgery. Since this surgery is usually so invasive, recovery is usually less than 25 percent after five years.
Rossman, I. Clinical Geriatrics, 3rd ed. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Co., 1986.


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