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Ovarian Cancer Pain

Introduction

Abdominal pain can be referred from ovarian cancer pain. Unfortunately this is a type of cancer that is often overlooked in the early stages.

Cancer of the ovary is a very common cancer in women. About 1 in 70 women get it and 1 in 100 women die of it. It occurs most commonly around or after menopause. There is a small group of women who will get it in the mid 30’s. In these cases it tends to be due to a genetic trait in the family and might then be associated with other cancers such as breast cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Unfortunately in the early stages of the disease ovarian cancer is mostly asymptomatic. However, a pelvic mass can be felt during a physical examination, which will prompt the physician to do more tests. Occasionally an ovarian mass can get twisted spontaneously and present as lower abdominal pain on the right or left. The doctor would then examine carefully, maybe do an abdominal ultrasound to identify the mass and do some blood tests. If the ultrasound showed an ovarian tumor, a CT scan may show more details (arrow points to a tumor in the left ovary of a 60-year old woman, which was found to be a papillary carcinoma). Some of the tumor markers, which the doctor would look for are called beta-human gonadotropin hormone, CA 125 (cancer antigen 125), LDH and alpha-fetoprotein.

Ovarian Cancer Pain (Ovarian Cancer Not Yet Ruptured)

Ovarian Cancer Pain (Ovarian Cancer Not Yet Ruptured)

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Before the physician can choose the appropriate treatment, the ovarian cancer has to be staged. The oncologist has a protocol, which is used to find out how far the tumor has spread. This tells the oncologist how aggressive the treatment has to be to get the highest possible cure rate. Depending on the stage, the therapy might only consists of surgical removal of the tumor, called ovariectomy (if localized), or the addition of postoperative therapy such as chemotherapy. For more information see the more detailed ovarian cancer chapter by clicking on this link.

 

References:

1. DM Thompson: The 46th Annual St. Paul’s Hospital CME Conference for Primary Physicians, Nov. 14-17, 2000, Vancouver/B.C./Canada

2. C Ritenbaugh Curr Oncol Rep 2000 May 2(3): 225-233.

3. PA Totten et al. J Infect Dis 2001 Jan 183(2): 269-276.

4. M Ohkawa et al. Br J Urol 1993 Dec 72(6):918-921.

5. Textbook of Primary Care Medicine, 3rd ed., Copyright © 2001 Mosby, Inc., pages 976-983: “Chapter 107 – Acute Abdomen and Common Surgical Abdominal Problems”.

6. Marx: Rosen’s Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice, 5th ed., Copyright © 2002 Mosby, Inc. , p. 185:”Abdominal pain”.

7. Feldman: Sleisenger & Fordtran’s Gastrointestinal and Liver Disease, 7th ed., Copyright © 2002 Elsevier, p. 71: “Chapter 4 – Abdominal Pain, Including the Acute Abdomen”.

8. Ferri: Ferri’s Clinical Advisor: Instant Diagnosis and Treatment, 2004 ed., Copyright © 2004 Mosby, Inc.

Last modified: October 4, 2014

Disclaimer
This outline is only a teaching aid to patients and should stimulate you to ask the right questions when seeing your doctor. However, the responsibility of treatment stays in the hands of your doctor and you.