Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries, each about the size of an almond, produce eggs as well as the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is difficult to treat and is often fatal. Ovarian cancer treatments are available. Researchers are studying ways to improve ovarian cancer treatment and looking into ways to detect ovarian cancer at an earlier stage.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are not specific to the disease, and they often mimic those ...view middle of the document...
Ovarian cancer types include:
• Cancer that begins in the cells on the outside of the ovaries: Called epithelial tumors; these cancers begin in the thin layer of tissue that covers the outside of the ovaries. Most ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors.
• Cancer that begins in the egg-producing cells: Called germ cell tumors; these ovarian cancers tend to occur in younger women.
• Cancer that begins in the hormone-producing cell: These cancers, called stromal tumors, begin in the ovarian tissue that produces the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.
The type of ovarian cancer one has helps determine her prognosis and treatment options.
Certain factors may increase one’s risk of ovarian cancer. Having one or more of these risk factors does not mean that one is sure to develop ovarian cancer, but her risk may be higher than that of the average woman. These risk factors include:
• Inherited gene mutations: A small percentage of ovarian cancers are caused by an inherited gene mutation. The genes known to increase the risk of ovarian cancer are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These genes were originally identified in families with multiple cases of breast cancer, which is how they got their names, but women with these mutations also have a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer.
• Family history of ovarian cancer: If women in your family have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you have an increased risk of the disease.
• A previous cancer diagnosis: If a woman has been diagnosed with cancer of the breast, colon, rectum or uterus, her risk of ovarian cancer is increased.
• Increasing age: Risk of ovarian cancer increases as a woman ages. Ovarian cancer most often develops after menopause, though it can occur at any age.
• Never having been pregnant: Women who have never been pregnant have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
TEST AND DIAGNOSIS
Tests and procedures used to diagnose ovarian cancer include:
• Pelvic examination: During a pelvic exam, your doctor carefully inspects the outer exposed part of your genitals, and then inserts two fingers of one hand into your vagina and simultaneously presses the other hand on your abdomen to feel your uterus and ovaries. He or she also inserts a device called a speculum into your vagina. The speculum opens your vagina so that your doctor can visually check your vagina and cervix for abnormalities.
• Ultrasound: Ultrasound uses high-frequency sound waves to produce images of the inside of the body. An ultrasound helps your doctor investigate the size, shape and configuration of your ovaries. To create a picture of your ovaries, your doctor may insert an ultrasound probe into your vagina. Ultrasound imaging can create pictures of the structures near your ovaries, such as your uterus.
• Surgery to remove samples of tissue for testing: If other tests suggest you may have ovarian cancer, your doctor may recommend...