Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer which develops in a woman's ovaries. A woman has two ovaries, located one on each side of the womb (uterus). Their function is to produce and release eggs.

Some women have ovarian tumours which are completely benign. Others have start out as benign but later become malignant. Some tumours are malignant from the beginning.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Unfortunately the symptoms are non-specific. In other words, there is nothing that can be specifically attributed to ovarian cancer and this often leads to it being diagnosed only after the cancer has spread to other areas.

If you experience several of the following, visit your doctor. While it may be something completely harmless or non-related, each of these symptoms should be checked by a doctor anyway:

  • Pain in the abdominal and pelvic area.
  • Irregular bowel movements.
  • Pain after eating such as indigestion.
  • Unexplained weight loss or weight gain.
  • Pain during sexual intercourse.
  • Frequent urination.
  • Fatigue.

If the cancer has already spread, the person may be able to 'feel' it, as the tumour may be so big that it presses on the bladder or intestines.

They may also experience an expanding waistline due to the accumulation of fluid within the abdomen caused by the cancer.

Who is most likely to develop ovarian cancer?

While it is found in younger women, ovarian cancer is most likely to develop in women over the age of 50.

Women who have had endometrial, colon or breast cancer also have a higher than average risk of developing ovarian cancer.

How is ovarian cancer treated?

It is usually treated with a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. In some cases, radiation therapy is also used.

Surgery usually involves removal of the womb, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Ovarian cancer can be cured if caught in time. However, cure rates vary and depend on the extent of the cancer and the general health of the woman.

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