Ovarian Cancer occurs when malignant or cancerous cells develop on the ovaries, one of two small organs that are on each side of the uterus that store eggs or germ cells and produce female hormones. Cancer develops when cells in a part of the body, such as the ovary, begin to grow at an abnormal rate.
Ovarian tumors can be benign (noncancerous) or malignant (cancerous). Although abnormal, cells of benign tumors do not metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). Malignant cancer cells in the ovaries can metastasize in two ways:
Note: We are not physicians and every case is different. We would just like to encourage you to speak with your doctor if the above symptoms persist.
These symptoms are also commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) diseases and by cancers of other organs. When they are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and represent a change from normal — for example, they occur more often or are more severe. If a woman has these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks, she should see her doctor, preferably a gynecologist. *
For more information on additional symptoms visit here.
If symptoms persist for more than 3 weeks, consult your physician, preferrably a gynecologist.
When the symptoms are persistent, when they do not resolve with normal interventions (like diet change, exercise, laxatives, rest) it is imperative for a woman to see her doctor. Persistence of symptoms is key. Because these signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer have been described as vague or silent, only around 19% of ovarian cancer is found in the early stages. Symptoms typically occur in advanced stages when tumor growth creates pressure on the bladder and rectum, and fluid begins to form.
Once a physician suspects a woman has ovarian cancer due to persistent symptoms (usually after a CA-125 test, ultrasound, and other tests), an exploratory surgical procedure called laparotomy is generally required for the definitive diagnosis of ovarian cancer. We strongly recommend going to a gynecological oncologist if ovarian cancer is suspected.
During this procedure, cysts or other suspicious areas must be removed and biopsied. After the incision is made, the surgeon assesses the fluid and cells in the abdominal cavity. If the lesion is cancerous, the surgeon continues with a process called surgical staging to ascertain how far the cancer has spread. In select cases aspiration of ascites because of metastatic lesion or laparoscopy is used to confirm the diagnosis.
For more Frequently asked questions visit our partner the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance.
Risk factors for the development of ovarian cancer include*:
The following statistics come primarily from the most recent findings of the Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results (SEER) Program of the National Cancer Institute and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance. SEER numbers are age-adjusted and based on actual data.
We are very excited to announce the production of our own ovarian cancer educational brochure. If you would like one, please email us at email@example.com
Every woman should undergo a regular rectal and vaginal pelvic examination. If an irregularity of the ovary is found, alternatives to evaluation include transvaginal sonography and/or tumor markers. The most common tumor marker is a blood test called the CA-125. **
* – American Cancer Society
**- Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance