Dr. Douglas A. Levine: Hi! I am Douglas Levine, and I am a Gynecologic Oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. I am also a member of the Ovarian Cancer Research Funds Scientific Advisory Committee. Today, I am going to provide an overview of Ovarian Cancer.
Ovarian Cancer like all cancer begins in the cells which make up the tissues and organs of our bodies. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells as needed. Similarly old cells grow old and die. Sometimes, this process goes wrong. New cells form when the body doesn't need them and old cells don't die. These extra cells can form a massive tissue called a Tumor.
There are many types of tumors that can start in the ovaries, some are benign or noncancerous and the patient could be cured by surgically removing one ovary or part of the ovary containing the tumor. Other tumors are malignant or cancerous. Ovarian cancer is a disease in which malignant or cancerous cells are found in the tissues of the ovary.
Ovarian cancer is a relatively rare disease affecting about 22,000 women each year in the United States. An average woman's lifetime risk of developing the disease is about 1 in 70 or 1.
5%. While ovarian cancer is rare, unfortunately it's also very aggressive, the most aggressive of all gynecologic cancer.
It is frequently diagnosed after the disease has progressed when it's harder to treat. Because of this about 15,000 women will die of ovarian cancer each year. There are different types of ovarian cancer and they are classified by the type of cell that they originate from; Epithelial, Germ Cell or Stromal.
Most ovarian cancers are Epithelial Carcinomas, which is cancer that involves the cells on the surface of the ovary. These Epithelial Carcinomas account for 85-90% of all cancers of the ovaries. They are also the most dangerous. Less common are Malignant germ cell tumors. Cancer that begins in the egg cells or cancer that being in Stromal cells, which are cells that release hormones and connect the tissues of the ovaries.
Both of these kinds are rare and tend to be treated more successfully. Ovarian cancer like all cancers can spread to other organs via direct extension or through the lymphatic or blood system. When cancer moves from its original place to another part of the body, a new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the original kind of tumor.
But before we get started, let me take a moment to tell you about myself. I am a Gynecologist Oncologist at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Caner Center in New York City and I specialize in the treatment of women with ovarian cancer. I also had our Gynecologic Research Laboratory; in addition I serve an Ovarian Cancer Research Funds Scientific Advisory Committee.
The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund is the largest private nonprofit organization in the United States dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research. The mission is to find a method of early detection and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer.
OCRF sponsored researches are developing innovative strategies for early detection, exploring the genetic risk factors, understanding the underlying molecular biology of the disease, identifying new and better targets for treatments and deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads and how to stop it.
If you want to learn more about ovarian cancer, check out our other videos including the next one on the symptoms of the disease.