Ovarian Cancer


Ovarian Cancer (Medical ovarian carcinoma) is a malignant ovarian tumor. The cancer is often discovered only at an advanced stage of the disease, when the tumor has already spread in the abdominal cavity. The risk increases with age - women are usually affected after menopause. Here you will learn everything important about ovarian cancer.

ICD codes for this disease: ICD codes are internationally valid medical diagnosis codes. They are found e.g. in medical reports or on incapacity certificates. C56D39C57ArtikelübersichtEierstockkrebs

  • description
  • symptoms
  • Causes and risk factors
  • Examinations and diagnosis
  • treatment
  • Disease course and prognosis

Ovarian Cancer: Description

Ovarian cancer (med. Ovarian cancer) is a malignant ovarian tumor. These lie to the left and right of the uterus and have a relatively large amount of space - because during the female cycle, their position and size changes a bit. Therefore, an ovarian tumor usually causes symptoms only at an advanced stage and is often noticed late. In about 50 percent of cases, the cancer affects both ovaries.

Physicians distinguish so-called germinal stromal tumors from cancer that arises from the ovarian cells themselves. This form of tumor develops from embryonic germinal cords. 15 to 20 percent of ovarian tumors arise in this way. An example is the Brenner tumor, a roundish, up to several centimeters large tumor, which is usually benign and degenerate only in 0.5 to 9 percent of cases.

Malignant ovarian cancer quickly forms secondary ulcers, called metastases. These spread mainly within the abdominal cavity and the peritoneum. The blood and lymph channels can also affect the liver, lungs, pleura or lymph nodes.

The disease occurs in four stages, which are classified according to the so-called FIGO classification:

  • FIGO I: Early stage. Ovarian cancer affects only the ovarian tissue. It can be an ovary or both ovaries affected.
  • FIGO II: The tumor has already spread in the pelvis.
  • FIGO III: The cancer has spread metastases into the peritoneum (med. Peritoneal Carcinoma) or in the lymph nodes.
  • FIGO IV: Highly advanced stage. The tumor tissue is already outside the abdominal cavity. For example, distant metastases can arise in the lungs. You get there via the bloodstream or lymphatic system.

Most older women are affected by the disease after menopause. Before age 40, ovarian cancer rarely occurs. Ovarian cancer is the second most common cancer of the female reproductive system after breast cancer. Every year between 7000 and 8000 women are newly diagnosed in Germany, writes the Robert Koch Institute. The risk of developing a malignant tumor on the ovaries is thus 1.5 percent (one in 68 women is affected).

Other ovarian tumors

In the ovaries, tumors may also occur that are not due to degeneration of the ovarian cells - such as secondary tumors of other cancers. These include the Krukenberg tumor, which arises as a secondary tumor of gastric cancer.

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Ovarian cancer: symptoms

Everything important to the typical signs of ovarian cancer read in the article Ovarian Cancer Symptoms.

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Ovarian cancer: causes and risk factors

Like almost every type of cancer, ovarian cancer arises from cells that grow unchecked. In the later stage, the tumor then forms metastases, which spread in the surrounding tissue, such as in the abdominal cavity. Why the cells degenerate is not known in detail. However, genetic factors seem to play a role, because ovarian cancer occurs familial and certain gene mutations (mutations) occur in cancer patients frequently. Furthermore, the number of female cycles plays a role in the pathogenesis. Women with a late first menstrual period and an early onset of menopause are therefore less likely to suffer from an ovarian tumor. This also applies to women who have been pregnant one or more times or who have used hormonal contraception over a longer period of time.

Genetic and environmental factors

Changes in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes significantly increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, they were found only in a small proportion of the women affected. Further genetic factors are still the subject of research. Breast cancer patients also frequently have altered genes of the BRCA group (BReast CAncer). Women whose first-degree relatives have breast or ovarian cancer are at an increased risk of contracting. Harmful environmental influences and unhealthy diets can also play a role. There is evidence that overweight (obesity) increases the risk of disease.

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Ovarian cancer: examinations and diagnosis

An initial indication of a tumor on the ovary is the palpation of the abdominal wall and the female reproductive organs. Usually follows an ultrasound examination (medical: sonography) of the abdominal region and the vagina. It already provides information about the size, location and condition of the cancerous tumors. It may also be possible to assess whether the tumor is benign or malignant. How far the disease has spread can be determined by computer or magnetic resonance imaging. Here, the doctor can detect metastases in the chest or abdomen. If there is any suspicion that the tumor has already affected the bladder or rectum, a cystoscopy or colonoscopy may be used. A reliable diagnosis is possible only after the examination of a tissue sample, which must be surgically removed beforehand (medical: biopsy).

To assess the course of the disease, the doctor can measure specific tumor markers in the blood. As the amount of these cellular proteins increases, this indicates increased metastases. After the surgical removal of a tumor, the investigation can provide evidence of a tumor relapse, a so-called relapse.

For ovarian cancer, there is no statutory screening for prevention. However, regular gynecological examinations and vaginal ultrasound can help to detect the cancer at an early stage. In the discussion is also whether a blood test in combination with ultrasound could be a standard procedure to get early evidence of ovarian cancer.