When formerly normal cells in a person’s body begin growing out of control, and become abnormal, cancer is present. Normal cells in the body divide, forming new cells to repair injuries to the body or to replace worn out cells. Cancer cells, however continue to grow and divide, setting them apart from normal cells. Cancer cells can both outlive normal cells as well as continue to create more abnormal cells until a tumor exists. Almost any cell can become a cancerous cell, and many types of cancerous cells can spread to other parts of the body.
Ovarian cancer starts in a woman’s ovaries, which lie on each side of the uterus, in the pelvis. Cancer cells which have spread from another organ, such as the colon or breast, to the ovaries are not considered ovarian cancer. A tumor in an ovary could be cancerous, or could be noncancerous (benign) in nature. Treatments for a woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer will depend on the type of ovarian cancer, as well as how far it has spread. The ovaries are comprised of three specific types of cells which can develop into different types of tumors:
- Germ cell tumors start from the cells in the ovaries which are responsible for producing a woman’s eggs.
- Epithelial tumors are the product of cells which cover the ovary’s outer surface. The vast majority of ovarian cancers are epithelial.
- The structural tissue cells which hold the ovary together can result in a stromal tumor. These tissue cells are responsible for producing female hormones.
Borderline Ovarian Tumors (Epithelial Ovarian Tumors with a Low Malignancy Potential)
Certain ovarian tumors do not clearly appear cancerous, and therefore have a low malignancy potential (LMP). These are tumors that have not grown into the ovary’s supporting tissues. In situations where low malignancy tumors have spread, they typically grow in the lining of the abdomen, but rarely grow into the abdomen itself. LMP tumors are typically slow-growing, less likely to result in death, and often affect younger women. LMP tumors which are cancerous have the potential to spread to other body parts, causing death.
Epithelial Ovarian Tumors
When an epithelial tumor is malignant, it is known as a carcinoma. As many as 85-90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial ovarian carcinomas. Within this classification of ovarian tumor are five sub-types:
- Serous (the most common);
- Clear Cell, and
- Undifferentiated (these grow and spread quickly).
In addition to falling into one of the above categories, epithelial ovarian carcinomas are given a grade, as well as a stage. Grade tells you how much the tumor appears like normal tissue on a scale of 1-3, while stage describes how far the tumor has spread from where it began. Generally speaking, epithelial ovarian carcinomas will spread to the belly and to the other pelvic organs first, although as this type of cancer advances, it could also spread to the liver, the lungs, the brain, the bones or even the skin. There are two types of cancer which are very similar to epithelial ovarian cancer:
- Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma – Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma is a rare cancer which, when looked at under a microscope, or during surgery, closely resembles epithelial ovarian cancer which has spread throughout the abdomen. Primary peritoneal carcinoma develops in the lining of the abdomen and pelvis, although some believe it starts in fallopian tube lining. Symptoms of primary peritoneal carcinoma are very similar to those of ovarian cancer, and women with this type of cancer will generally receive the same type of treatment—removing as much of the cancer as possible, then undergoing chemotherapy.
- Fallopian Tube Cancer – Fallopian Tube Cancer is also an extremely rare type of cancer which begins in the fallopian tube, and has the same type of symptoms as ovarian cancer. The treatment for this type of cancer is similar to that of ovarian cancer; however there is generally a slightly better prognosis.
The Recent Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Problem and Epithelial Ovarian Tumors
Perhaps you have heard about the recent Johnson & Johnson talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits, in which jurors found in favor of the plaintiffs, deciding there was a risk of developing talcum powder ovarian cancer, and that J & J was aware of that risk, yet offered no warnings to women. According to some studies, when talcum powder (talc is contained in baby powder with talc and/or “Shower to Shower”) is used in the genital region for feminine hygiene, it can increase a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer by as much as 30 percent. Johnson & Johnson’s “Shower to Shower” product contains talc and cornstarch. According to the company website, Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder contains talc. Johnson & Johnson does manufacture a baby powder with cornstarch only, which is not at issue here.
Johnson & Johnson maintains its baby powder with talcum powder is safe, therefore there was no need for warnings, yet many feel otherwise. The risk of talc cancer has resulted in more than 1,200 baby powder cancer lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson from women across the nation. Those pending talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits, as well as the three which have already been decided, have left many women with more questions than answers. Scientific Studies going as far back as the 1970s have pointed to a possible link between the long term use of Talcum Powder for feminine hygiene and an increased risk for the development of Epithelial Ovarian Cancer Tumors.
Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors
While some ovarian germ cell tumors can be life-threatening, most are benign. Germ cell tumors are not common—less than 2 percent of all ovarian tumors are this type. The vast majority of women with a germ cell tumor survive at least five years following the initial diagnosis. Germ cell tumors have four sub-types which are:
- Teratomas—when looked at under a microscope, teratomas look like three layers of a developing embryo. The tumor may be mature or immature; a mature teratoma is a benign tumor affecting women of reproductive age, which is cured by removal of the tumor. An immature teratoma generally affects young women under the age of 18. In some cases, an immature teratoma requires the removal of the affected ovary as well as chemotherapy.
- Choriocarcinomas—This type of tumor, along with sinus tumors, are extremely rare, affecting younger women. Although Choriocarcinomas and sinus tumors grow and spread rapidly, they respond quickly to chemotherapy. A choriocarcinoma tumor can also begin in the placenta during pregnancy.
- Sinus tumors—known as “yolk sac” tumors, these tumors are very rare, and generally occur in the second decade of a young girl’s life. This type of tumor tends to grow and spread rapidly, and, in the past, had a poor prognosis. Thanks to many new treatments, ovarian sinus tumors now have a much better outcome.
- Dysgerminomas—while rare, dysgerminomas are the most common ovarian germ cell cancer, typically affecting younger women in their late teens and twenties. When the cancerous cells have not spread outside the ovary in this type of cancer, at least 75 percent of all women with this cancer are cured by removal of the ovary. If the tumor has spread, radiation and chemotherapy are generally effective.
Ovarian Stromal Tumors
Women over the age of 50 are the group usually affected by an ovarian stromal tumor, although about 5 percent of these tumors occur in young girls. Ovarian stromal tumors are fairly rare, and account for only about 1 percent of all ovarian cancers. Because ovarian stromal tumors produce estrogen, one of the most common symptoms is abnormal vaginal bleeding. In very rare cases an ovarian stromal tumor can produce testosterone, causing menstrual periods to cease and resulting in an abnormal growth of facial and body hair. Most stromal tumors are found at a much earlier stage than other types, and have a 75 percent long-term survival rate. The three subtypes of ovarian stromal tumors are:
- Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors;
- Granulosa-theca tumors, and
- Thecomas and fibromas, which are benign ovarian stromal tumors.
An estimated one out of every 75 women will develop ovarian cancer at some point in her lifetime. Ovarian cancer is a particularly deadly type of cancer; while there are 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year, more than 15,000 women die from ovarian cancer annually. Ovarian cancer is rarely caught early, however when it is diagnosed and treated in the early stage, there is a 90 percent five-year survival rate. Unfortunately, less than twenty percent of all ovarian cancers are found in the early stage, largely because the symptoms are vague and can apply to a number of other medical issues.
Do You Need the Help of a Talcum Powder Ovarian Cancer Lawyer
If you are a victim of ovarian cancer and you used baby powder with talc or “Shower to Shower” with talc for feminine hygiene, it could be extremely beneficial to speak to an experienced talcum powder ovarian cancer lawyer. You may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, including medical expenses, lost wages, potentially even pain and suffering. A knowledgeable talcum powder ovarian cancer lawyer should be able to evaluate your potential talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuit and then advise you on a proper course of action.