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Endometriosis Versus Ovarian Cancer

written by: Carma Haley Shoemaker • edited by: Diana Cooper • updated: 5/9/2011

When comparing endometriosis versus ovarian cancer, many symptoms and characteristics are quite similar. Knowing how to tell the difference and when to seek medical attention is important, as this article can explain.

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    There are many similarities when comparing endometriosis versus ovarian cancer. In fact, there are some that are symptoms of both. This makes it important to become familiar with the warning signs of both conditions, know the symptoms, and understand when to seek medical treatment for a proper diagnosis.

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    Need to Know Info

    To compare the conditions, it’s important to understand a little about what they are independent of each other.

    Endometriosis

    Endometriosis is a medical condition in which the endometrial cells (the cells that line the uterus) begin to grow on surfaces outside of the uterus, such as the ovaries, outer surface of the uterus, intestines and various connective tissues surrounding the uterus. The cause of endometriosis is unknown, but affects approximately 16 percent of women of reproductive age.

    Ovarian Cancer

    Ovarian cancer is one of the most common causes of cancer death from gynecologic tumors in the United States. Research indicates there may be several contributing factors in the development of ovarian cancer. These factors include hormonal and reproductive factors, family history of ovarian and breast cancer and exposure to various pesticides. According to the National Cancer Institute, the current rate of ovarian cancer rates indicate that 1 in every 147 women will develop ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetime.

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    Endometriosis and Ovarian Cancer

    When comparing endometriosis versus ovarian cancer, it is very important to remember that the connection is not completely understood, and further medical research is needed.

    One of the main reasons endometriosis is compared to ovarian cancer is both are characterized by cell invasion, and abnormal growth. In addition, pelvic pain, bloating, pain with urination, bowel movements, digestion and intercourse, abnormal menstrual periods and bleeding are all symptoms of both endometriosis and ovarian cancer.

    While there are similarities between endometriosis and ovarian cancer, difference are apparent as well. The main difference is, while it can be a serious condition, endometriosis is not deadly or fatal. On the other hand, ovarian cancer kills approximately 100,000 women every year worldwide. Treatments for the conditions are vastly different as well. Endometriosis is treated with pain management, hormone treatments and, in severe cases, laparoscopic surgery. Ovarian cancer treatments consists of radiation, chemotherapy, anti-emetics (anti-nausea medications to prevent vomiting from the chemotherapy side effects) and pain management with narcotics.

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    Additional Information

    Recent research has uncovered a possible connection between endometriosis and ovarian cancer. There is a possibility that women who suffer from endometriosis may be more susceptible to some forms of cancer, including ovarian, as well as others. While some researchers and doctors agree that the possibility of this risk exists, no conclusive evidence has been found, indicating the need for further research and study.

    Attempting to determine which condition is present without medical intervention could result in misdiagnosis and extreme medical complications. It is important to have regularly scheduled examinations from a health professional, as early diagnosis is a major factor in the successful treatment of both endometriosis and ovarian cancer.

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    Resources:

    Endometriosis.org. www.endometriosis.org

    Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/endometriosis/DS00289

    National Cancer Institute. http://seer.cancer.gov/statfacts/html/cervix.html

    U.S. National Library of Medicine. National Institutes of Health. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

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