LIFESTYLE

Woman With No Ovaries 'Diagnosed With Ovarian Cancer'

20/08/2015 14:17 BST | Updated 20/08/2015 14:59 BST

A woman has received the devastating news that she has ovarian cancer, despite the fact that she has no ovaries.

Linsey Joyce had her uterus and ovaries removed in 2013 after she began to experience severe stomach pains.

Doctors discovered cysts on Joyce's ovaries that had the potential to become cancerous, so she made the decision to have them removed, in order to protect her health.

So she was shocked when doctors diagnosed her with ovarian cancer almost two years later, in January of this year.



Despite originally receiving the "all clear" in January of last year, Joyce began to experience severe stomach pain again by the April.

At first, doctors diagnosed her with endometriosis - a common condition where "tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb (the endometrium) is found outside the womb".

But by December, the pain she was experiencing increased, so she returned to the hospital.

A biopsy revealed she had cancerous cells where her ovaries had been, which then spread to her stomach.

"I was completely taken aback by the diagnosis and wish I'd known that it could have been possible as I may have pushed for a scan sooner," Joyce said, according to the MailOnline.

The 47-year-old had her stomach lining removed in May and is now having chemotherapy to fight the disease.

"The cancer I have is very aggressive but I have responded well to the treatment and I'm focusing on being strong and getting through this," she added.



Jean Slocombe, a cancer information nurse at Cancer Research UK, tells HuffPost UK Lifestyle says that while there have been reported cases of women developing ovarian cancer after having their ovaries removed, there is no firm proof as to why this may happen - or if it definitely does.

Slocombe says, that while medical experts are divided on the cause, there are two main possibilities as to why this might happen.

"One idea is that the woman may have had some minor cancer in the ovaries before they were removed, that was perhaps too small to be detected," she explains.

"That cancer can then develop and spread, so a few years later, you get ovarian cancer appearing near where the ovaries were or perhaps somewhere else in the body."

Slocombe points out that sometimes a cancer can spread, but the primary cancer (in this case the ovaries) disappears because the immune system has dealt with it.

The other explanation could be that that women who have had their ovaries removed do not develop ovarian cancer as such, but actually develop a rare cancer called a primary peritoneal cancer. It is impossible to tell the difference between the two cancers.

Slocombe explains: "The sheet of tissue that lines the abdomen - the peritoneum - is made up of exactly the same type of cells that line the outside of the ovaries. If you took a sample of tissue from my peritoneum and a sample of tissue from my ovaries, you probably wouldn't be able to tell which was which.

"So consequently, if you've got a cancer staring in the peritoneum, you wouldn't know for sure what it was - it could mimic ovarian cancer."



Joyce has said the support of her husband, Stephen, and her two sons, Keiran, 20, and Connor, 14, has helped her to remain positive throughout her treatment.

Her mother died of breast cancer, so she has always known she may one day develop cancer herself. But she never expected to get ovarian cancer - particularly without ovaries.

She said: "It goes to show just how important it is to listen to your body and be persistent when you know something is wrong."

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