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Ovarian Cancer, The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly
Moderator: Dr. Andrew Odhiambo, Consultant Medical Oncologist & Lecturer, University of Nairobi
- Dr. Benjamin Odongo Elly, Gynecologic Oncologist at Moi Teaching and Referral University.
Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) cancer center offers a holistic approach to cancer treatment. Germ cell tumors account for 10-115% of all ovarian tumors and affect young females of reproductive age. They are very chemosensitive hence are curable, using fertility-sparing surgery. Stromal tumors account for 3-5% of all ovarian tumors and affect women of all ages. These tumors are diagnosed early and are histologically low-grade, with a good prognosis, when treated with surgery, followed by adjuvant treatment. However, some tumors are aggressive and lethal. Epithelial tumors represent 80-85% of all ovarian tumors. They have a poor prognosis and are always detected late. Warning signs include abdominal bloating, abdominal/pelvic pain, bowel/bladder symptoms, and irregular vaginal bleeding. Prevention of ovarian cancer is by avoidance of risk factors and prophylactic surgery in high-risk women. There is currently no good screening test for the general population. Diagnosis is by appropriate physical examination, pelvic/transvaginal ultrasound, tumor markers, and CT scan. The majority of patients are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease (stage III or IV) leading to poor overall 5-year survival. However, patients are living longer with the disease due to advances in surgery and chemotherapy treatment. As a country, there is a need to improve the early diagnosis of ovarian cancer through advocacy, patient education, human resource, training capacity building, and availing resources to the health care facilities.