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CA Cancer J Clin. 1986 May-Jun;36(3):149-84.

Ovarian cancer.


Early diagnosis is the most effective means of reducing the currently high mortality rate associated with ovarian cancer. The palpation of what appears to be a normal size ovary in a premenopausal woman suggests an ovarian tumor in a postmenopausal woman. Ovarian cancer should be ruled out in any woman 40 years of age or older who has persistent, unexplained GI symptoms. Ninety percent of all ovarian tumors are of epithelial origin. Treatment consists of total hysterectomy, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, omentectomy, and appendectomy. Instillation of P32 is optional. In stages IIb, III, and IV tumors, chemotherapy is advised; in stages I and IIa, the use of prophylactic chemotherapy must be judged on an individual basis. In children, ovarian cancer that is beyond the localized stage is one of the most frustrating of all gynecologic diseases. Total surgical extirpation of disease is the only hope for cure; for now, early diagnosis is more chance than scientific method. Thanks to better public and professional education, ovarian cancer is now being diagnosed at an earlier stage. The earlier the diagnosis, the greater the chance for cure. It is becoming obvious that ovarian cancer is a disease of the GI tract, and physicians treating ovarian cancer should be prepared to deal with bowel-associated problems. The practice of tapping women with ascites for diagnosis as well as doing an exploration merely to obtain a biopsy should be discouraged. Unless the physician is prepared to carry out the optimal surgical approach for the patient, it is crucial that the patient be referred to either a center or to a physician who is actively engaged in the day-to-day care of cancer patients. With the combined use of all the available treatment methods, patients with ovarian cancer are now living longer and more comfortably. There is also indication that their long-term survival will be increased. The one message that is important for both patients and physicians is that the gloom and doom of the 1960s and 1970s can now be replaced by a spirit of optimism.

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