What is ovarian cancer?

A malignant tumor that begins in the ovaries is called ovarian cancer.

There are several types of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer that begins on the surface of the ovary (epithelial carcinoma) is the most common type. Ovarian cancer that begins in the egg-producing cells (germ cell tumors) and cancer that begins in the supportive tissue surrounding the ovaries (stromal tumors) are rare.

Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on a number of individual factors, including the type of cancer, stage of the disease, the woman’s age and general health. Ovarian cancer may be treated with surgery, chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The doctor may use just one method or combine them. Surgery is the initial treatment for almost every woman with ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a difficult disease to catch early. There is no standard or routine screening test for ovarian cancer, as screening has not been proven to decrease the death rate from the disease.

Possible symptoms are pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back or legs; a swollen or bloated abdomen; nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea; feeling very tired all the time; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).

While these symptoms are most likely not ovarian cancer, if you experience any of these symptoms regularly, it is a good idea to visit your gynecologist.

ä Internet Resources:

Ovarian Cancer – National Cancer Institute

cancer.gov/types/ovarian

Ovarian Cancer: An Overview – Gynecological Cancer Foundation

wcn.org/articles/types_of_cancer/ovarian/overview/