Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries. Ovaries are reproductive glands found only in females. The ovaries produce eggs (ova) for reproduction. The eggs travel through the fallopian tubes into the uterus, where the fertilized egg implants and develops into a fetus. The ovaries also are the main source of the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone. They are located in the pelvis, on either side of the uterus.
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, then you are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer yourself. Some ovarian cancers are caused by an inherited genetic mutation. Hereditary ovarian cancer makes up approximately 5% to 10% of all cases of ovarian cancer. Tests that can detect mutated genes are sometimes performed for members of families with a high risk of cancer.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, it is more difficult to treat and is frequently fatal. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.
The type of cell where the cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have. Ovarian cancer types include:
- Epithelial tumors, which begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. About 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
- Stromal tumors, which begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells. These tumors are usually diagnosed at an earlier stage than other ovarian tumors. About 7% of ovarian tumors are stromal.
- Germ cell tumors, which begin in the egg-producing cells. This rare ovarian cancer tends to occur in younger women.
Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3% of cancer in women, but causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling,
- Quickly feeling full when eating,
- Weight loss,
- Discomfort in the pelvic area,
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation, and frequent need to urinate.
The following methods are used to diagnose ovarian cancers: blood tests, urinalysis, GI series, exploratory laparoscopy, ultrasound, abdominal CT scan, and MRI of the abdomen. Treatment may include surgery, radiation, and/or chemotherapy.
If the ovarian cancer is inoperable or unresectable, then treatment with radiation and/or chemotherapy can be utilized to manage the disease, but the prognosis is poor. About 76% of women with ovarian cancer survive one year after diagnosis, and about 45% live longer than five years after diagnosis.
Social Security Administration POMS DI 23022.260 – Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian Cancer is listed under the Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Compassionate Allowance Program, which was launched in 2008 to expedite certain disability claims. Applying for disability benefits under the Compassionate Allowance Program requires the same procedure every applicant must follow when applying for SSA disability benefits; however, you will be notified if your condition is being considered as a compassionate allowance.
Ovarian cancer that is inoperable, unresectable, or with distant metastases, has a poor prognosis, but currently, it is not included specifically under SSA medical listing 13.23 E. However, it equals medical listing 13.23-E1a, as it has a similar prognosis to this listing.
Your representative may be able to help expedite your disability claim if you have a diagnosis of ovarian cancer.