Ovarian cancer: Nursing

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Ovarian cancer is a malignant cell growth that begins in the ovaries or the fallopian tube. It is often bilateral and spreads quickly to nearby organs through direct extension, to abdominal organs through abdominal seeding, and to distant organs through the blood and lymphatic vasculature.

Now, let’s recap the anatomy and physiology of the ovaries, which are paired almond-shaped organs that lie within the pelvic cavity, on each side of the uterus. The functions of the ovaries include producing and releasing oocytes through the process of oogenesis, in addition to producing estrogen and progesterone, which are responsible for maintaining pregnancy, growth, and development in assigned females at birth.

Now, let’s look at the microscopic structure of the ovaries. Each ovary is lined by a simple squamous epithelium called the germinal epithelium, which is then covered by a thick connective tissue capsule called the tunica albuginea. The inside of the ovary is divided into two zones: cortex and medulla. The cortex houses small sacs of oocytes and supporting cells called the ovarian follicles, which are embedded in the outer layer of a unique type of connective tissue called the ovarian stroma.

Now, the exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, but there’s typically a genetic mutation in a cell of the ovary or the fallopian tube, such as a mutation in breast cancer genes 1 and 2, also known as BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.

These mutations may arise from a variety of risk factors. Nonmodifiable risk factors include middle or older age, family history, early menarche, late menopause, a history of polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS, endometriosis, breast, or colon cancer.


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