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Silent Killer: The Hidden Threat of Ovarian Cancer

Daniel Kim Views  

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Ovarian cancer refers to cancers that originate from the ovary, fallopian tubes, and peritoneum. This cancer is divided into epithelial ovarian cancer, which accounts for about 90%, and non-epithelial ovarian cancer, which accounts for about 10%.

In the early stages, there are no distinct symptoms, but as the disease progresses, one may feel abdominal bloating due to ascites. If it metastasizes to other organs, especially the lungs, difficulty breathing can occur due to pleural effusion.

Professor Kim Jeong Cheol from the Obstetrics and Gynecology Department at Soonchunhyang University Bucheon Hospital stated on June 24, “The prevalence of ovarian cancer is relatively low at 2.4%, but the survival rate is the lowest among gynecological cancers due to the lack of distinct early symptoms. Recently, tailored treatments such as targeted therapy and immunotherapy based on genetic test results have contributed to reducing the recurrence and mortality rates of ovarian cancer.”

The leading causes of ovarian cancer are an increase in the number of ovulations, genetic predispositions such as BRCA 1/2 mutations, and old age. It is known that pregnancy, breastfeeding, and taking oral contraceptives, which reduce the number of ovulations, can reduce the incidence of epithelial ovarian cancer. Patients with BRCA 1/2 mutations have a lifetime prevalence of ovarian cancer of 10-46%. One study reported that 45% of newly diagnosed ovarian cancers occur in patients aged 55 to 75. On the other hand, non-epithelial ovarian cancer is known to be more common in younger patients.

“Other factors such as menopausal hormone therapy, obesity, polycystic ovary syndrome, and a family history of breast cancer have been mentioned in academia as influencing ovarian cancer, but they have not yet been established,” Kim added.

To diagnose ovarian cancer, genetic predispositions are confirmed through medical and family history, imaging tests, and tumor marker tests. If ovarian cancer is suspected, it is confirmed through a tissue test by surgery.

The treatment of ovarian cancer is considered a combination of surgical treatment, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, and targeted therapy. Surgery involves completely opening the abdomen, removing the female appendages, and removing all cancerous lesions from organs where metastasis is found. Depending on the patient’s condition and stage of the disease, the need for chemotherapy and targeted treatment through genetic testing can be determined after surgery. If the disease is advanced, the size of the lesion can be reduced through chemotherapy before surgery for ovarian cancer diagnosis, and then surgical treatment and chemotherapy can be considered.

While there is no clear preventative measure for ovarian cancer, high-risk genetic patients, who make up 10% of all patients, can consider intensive monitoring and risk-reducing surgery, such as bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy. Primarily, in cases where BRCA 1/2 mutations have been confirmed, the lifetime prevalence of ovarian cancer is known to be 10-46%. In this case, ongoing screening can be considered until age 30-35 before deciding on risk-reducing surgery. Patients with Patients with hereditary conditions known as Lynch syndrome, who have a reported ovarian cancer risk of 3% to 33%, can also reduce their risk through risk-reducing surgeries.

Daniel Kim
content@viewusglobal.com

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