Women’s health: Ovarian Cancer

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in women ages 35-74. More than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year and more than 14,000 will die, according to the American Cancer Society.

Previously, NEWS10’s Christina Arangio spoke with Dr. Heidi Godoy from Saint Peter’s Health Partner’s (SPHP) about Primary Peritoneal Cancer. In this week’s report, she spoke with SPHP’s Dr. Ajaz Khan, an oncologist, about ovarian cancer.

Because 60-80% of women with a BRCA mutation will develop ovarian or breast cancer at some point in their life, knowing family history is the most important preventative measure women can take, says Dr. Khan. He stresses that not all mutations indicate a future cancer diagnosis but those women with a strong family history should receive genetic testing and counseling.

Dr. Khan discusses the removal of ovaries as a preventative measure in patients with BRCA mutations known to be a cancer marker

One out of 78 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime and due to symptoms presenting as common ailments like constipation, gastrointestinal issues, or decreased appetite 80% of women diagnosed will already be in stage III or higher, according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition.

Women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, depending on the circumstances, will in many cases receive chemotherapy prior to surgery. The goal of receiving the therapy before removal of any tumors is to reduce the size of them, says Dr. Khan. Chemotherapy has been shown to be a successful treatment along with surgery, to prolong the lives of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Dr. Khan talks about the effectiveness of chemotherapy and surgery in treating ovarian cancer

The majority of ovarian cancers, 85-90%, are under the category of epithelial. This type of ovarian cancer is present in 50% of cases for women diagnosed over the age of 65, the Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance says. Epithelial ovarian cancer is further divided into different types: serous carcinomas, clear cell carcinoma, endometrioid, and mucinous. Primary peritoneal and fallopian tube cancers are also serous carcinomas.

No matter what stage ovarian cancer a woman is diagnosed with, timely treatment is the primary focus of doctors. Dr. Khan says it is a challenge for doctors because while this cancer usually originates in the fallopian tubes the priority is treating the cancer where it is currently.

Dr. Khan discusses the challenges of treating ovarian cancer

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