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Cancer Project Essay

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What is cancer?

The disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in a part of the body. A malignant growth or tumor resulting from such a division of cells. OVARIAN CANCER
Anatomy | Tests | Laparotomy | Stages
The term cancer does not refer to a single disease, but rather to more than 100 individual diseases characterized by the uncontrolled growth of cells within the body. Most normal cells grow, reproduce and die in an orderly, controlled fashion. However, cancer cells grow and divide endlessly, crowding out nearby healthy cells and eventually spreading to other parts of the body. This spread of cancerous cells is called metastasis. A malignant tumor is a mass, or collection, of cancer cells. Malignant tumors grow rapidly and can invade nearby tissues. They can eventually metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. A benign tumor, on the other hand, is a mass of cells that is not cancerous. It will not invade nearby tissues or metastasize (spread) to other parts of the body. The Anatomy

The ovary is a small organ in the pelvis that makes female hormones and holds egg cells which, when fertilized, can develop into a baby. There are two ovaries: one located on the left side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a baby grows) and one located on the right. Cancer of the ovary is a disease in which cancer cells are found in the lining (epithelium) of the ovary. For this reason, ovarian cancer is sometimes called ovarian epithelial cancer. A far less common cancer-a germ cell tumor-occurs when cancer is found in the egg-making cells in the ovary. Unfortunately, the vast majority of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced disease. Although sometimes women with early ovarian cancer have symptoms, such as vague gastrointestinal discomfort, pelvic pressure and pain, more often women with early ovarian cancer have no symptoms or very mild and nonspecific symptoms. By the time symptoms are present, women with ovarian cancer usually have advanced disease. Because cancer of the ovary may spread to the peritoneum (the sac inside the abdomen that holds the intestines, uterus, and ovaries), many women with cancer of the ovary may have fluid inside the peritoneum (called ascites), which causes swelling of the abdomen. Fluid may build up under the lungs and cause shortness of breath when ascites accumulates. Some women are at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer because of a family history of ovarian cancer. Women with two or more close family members affected by ovarian cancer should be counseled by a qualified specialist regarding their individual risk. A woman with one affected close relative (mother, sister, or daughter) has a 5.0% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer. This compares with a 1.5% lifetime risk of ovarian cancer in a woman with no affected relatives. The chance of recovery (prognosis) and choice of treatment depend on the patient's age and general state of health, the type and size of the tumor, and the stage of the cancer. Staging Tests

Once cancer of the ovary is suspected more tests will be done to find out if the cancer has spread to other parts of the body (staging). A thorough history and physical examination should be done, as well as blood tests to determine the CA-125 level. In younger women with an ovarian mass the blood should be tested for alpha-fetoprotein and beta-chorionic gonadotropin , as these levels are increased in people with germ cell tumors. Usually a CT scan of the abdomen and pelvis is performed preoperatively to assess the extent of disease. Laparotomy

An operation called a laparotomy is done for almost all patients to find out the stage of the disease. The staging laparotomy is very important because the stage of disease determines the treatment needed. A doctor cuts into the abdomen and carefully looks at all the organs to see if they contain cancer. A thorough evaluation of the peritoneum is performed. A biopsy of pelvic and some abdominal lymph nodes is conducted and any observable cancer is removed. (Usually, this involves removing both ovaries and the uterus but in selected cases of women who still want to have children the uterus and unaffected ovary can be left in place) The peritoneal cavity is washed with a saline solution and examined for cancer cells. A surgeon experienced in ovarian cancer should perform the staging laparotomy because information gained from the surgery is needed for proper postoperative treatment. During the staging laparotomy, it is...

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