Ovarian Cancer Program

Ovarian Cancer Program

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The Ovarian Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi’s Oncology Institute provides care for women during what can be a very difficult time. We offer a truly collaborative approach to cancer care, close to home. We use the very latest diagnostic and treatment techniques, supported by highly specialized and compassionate care; a very important differentiating factor when treating ovarian cancer and an essential part of improving outcomes for patients.

Ovarian Cancer Program
  • Why Choose Us?
  • What We Treat
  • Symptoms
  • Diagnosis & Treatment
  • Prevention & Screening
  • Program Caregivers

Why Choose Us?

Our female-only, multidisciplinary team is led by one of the region’s only female Gynecologic Oncologists, Dr. Stephanie Ricci. She is a specialist in the treatment of female cancers, and one of only a handful in the UAE. Treatment for ovarian cancer by a gynecologic oncologist is extremely important as they have the dedicated training, specialist experience and technical skills needed to diagnose and treat the cancer as effectively as possible. Dr. Ricci qualified in the US and spent 6 years at Cleveland Clinic in the US. She has dedicated her career to helping women affected by cancer. 

Our multidisciplinary approach brings together a team of experts to provide coordinated and exceptional patient care to those diagnosed with gynecologic cancers. The team meets regularly as a multidisciplinary tumor board to discuss each patient and ensure the best treatment options are considered for each individual.  


What We Treat

Ovarian cancer is the abnormal growth of cells within the ovaries – the part of the female reproductive system that makes eggs. This abnormal growth can lead to the formation of a tumor, which can be benign (not cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Benign tumors may not pose a problem to your health, but malignant tumors are more aggressive and can spread to other parts of the body. 

The team of female specialists at the Ovarian Cancer Program at Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi are highly trained in a variety of diagnostic techniques and state-of-the-art therapeutic treatments for ovarian cancers.


Symptoms, Causes & Risk Factors

Symptoms of Ovarian cancer 

Ovarian cancer often has no symptoms until the later stages, when it may have spread through the abdomen. Symptoms might include: 

  • Pain, bloating or discomfort in the abdomen 
  • Feeling full quickly or losing your appetite 
  • Bleeding or vaginal discharge that isn’t normal (for example between periods or after the menopause) 
  • Changes in your bowel habits 
  • Noticing lumps or an increase in size in your abdomen 
  • Needing to urinate more frequently or urgently

Causes & Risk Factors of Ovarian Cancer

Doctors don’t know the exact cause of ovarian cancer, but there are certain risk factors that put you at an increased risk. These include: 

  • Family history: If a close relative has ovarian cancer, or if you have the inherited BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation 
  • An Eastern European (Ashkenazi) Jewish background 
  • If you have not been pregnant 
  • If you have had endometriosis 
  • A previous uterine, breast or colorectal cancer diagnosis 
  • Age: The risk of ovarian cancer increases with age 
  • Lynch syndrome: An inherited disorder that increases your risk of certain cancers

Diagnosis & Treatment

Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer 

Unfortunately, there are no screening tests available for ovarian cancer and testing usually happens once symptoms are present. Therefore, it is important to notify your doctor as soon as you notice something that is unusual for you. 

Your doctor will begin by discussing your medical history and performing a physical exam. A pelvic exam will look for any lumps or enlarged organs. If your doctor feels additional tests are needed, these might include: 

  • Pelvic ultrasound: This uses sound waves to get a picture of your organs, allowing your doctor to see any abnormal growths. Other imaging tests such as an MRI, CT scan, PET scan or X-ray may also be used to diagnose ovarian cancer 
  • Blood tests: These will look for increased levels of something called CA-125, which can be a sign of cancer. Sometimes the levels of CA-125 are increased when no cancer is present, or the cancer does not cause an increased level, so other diagnostic tests are always used 
  • Surgical evaluation: Surgery can be used to diagnose ovarian cancer 
  • Laparoscopy: This is a type of surgery that uses a thin camera (laparoscope), inserted via a small incision in the abdomen, to look at the cancer and perform biopsies. It can also be used to remove tumors

Treatment for Ovarian Cancer 

Treatment of ovarian cancer aims to remove as much of the cancer as possible. This usually means removing any organs (or part of the organ) that the cancer has spread to. 

  • Surgery: A minimally invasive procedure called laparoscopy (also used for diagnosis) is used to treat ovarian cancer. Alternatively, laparotomy, a surgical procedure in which the abdomen is opened, and the ovaries and other affected organs are removed, can be used. 
  • Chemotherapy: This involves taking medication that targets and kills cancer cells. The type of chemotherapy you receive will depend on many factors, including the stage of your cancer. Sometimes chemotherapy is given following surgery.

After you have received treatment for ovarian cancer, you will need to see your doctor regularly to discuss any possible symptoms and to check the cancer hasn’t returned. Observation following ovarian cancer is very important. 


Prevention & Screening

Ovarian cancer can’t be prevented and unfortunately there are no screening tests for it. However, there are things you can do to decrease your risk of getting cancer as you get older, such as maintaining a healthy weight, eating well and exercising regularly.  

Being aware of your family history is also important. Studies have shown that women who have had children or have used oral contraceptives for more than 5 years are less likely to develop ovarian cancer.  

There are two gene mutations associated with ovarian cancer, known as BRCA1 and BRCA2, which are also associated with breast cancer. If there is a strong family history of either of these cancers, your doctor may suggest genetic testing to identify these mutations. This can help in the early treatment of the cancer. 


Program Caregivers

Our female-only, multidisciplinary team of caregivers includes: 

  • Gynecologic Oncologist 
  • Oncologists  
  • Radiologists  
  • Consultant physicians  
  • Nurses 

Ovarian Cancer Program Doctors

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