What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a growth of malignant cells that starts in a woman’s ovaries, or the reproductive glands that produce ova. While ovarian cancer takes place in the ovaries, cancer that begins elsewhere in a female’s body and ends up in the ovaries is not considered the same thing.
Ovarian tumors in general can be either benign or malignant. Benign tumors are noncancerous and do not spread to other parts of the body, or metastasize. Malignant tumors are cancerous and do metastasize through two ways. In the first way, it is done directly to other organs in the pelvis and abdomen, which is the most common. The second way is through the bloodstream or lymph nodes to other parts of the body.
More about Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is a great concern for many women. The risk of a woman developing ovarian cancer during her lifetime is one in 67, and the risk of developing and dying from it is one in 95.
With rates like this, it isn’t incredibly common, and doesn’t seem like it should cause much alarm in most women. However, some women due to heredity and other factors may be at greater risk of developing ovarian cancer at some point in their lifetime.
We will start by explaining what ovarian cancer is, then move on to causes, symptoms, risk factors, diagnosis, treatment, and other information.
Causes of Ovarian Cancer
The causes of ovarian cancer are mostly multi-factorial.
One theory points to genetic errors that may occur through repeated wear and tear caused by the release of an egg monthly. Another theory states that the increase of hormone levels before and during ovulation may stimulate the growth of abnormal cells.
One of the newest theories is that malignant cells that initially started from the end of the fallopian tube may spread to the ovary.
Normal ovaries without cancer
Ovaries with cancer
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Ovarian cancer often begins without warning. Ovarian cancer may not even show symptoms until later stages. Here are some symptoms you may experience:
- Frequent Bloating
- Pain in the Belly or Pelvis
- Difficulty Eating, or Becoming Full Quickly
- Urinary Problems such as Frequent Urination or Sudden Urge to Urinate
These symptoms are considered especially as evidence of ovarian cancer when they have occurred almost daily for two or three weeks. The difference in these common symptoms for some women and symptoms of ovarian cancer in others is determined by their behavior. Typically, if they start suddenly, feel different than your normal digestive or menstrual issues, and happen almost every day without subsiding, this is evidence of ovarian cancer.
Other Symptoms May Include:
- Loss of Appetite
- Back Pain
- Pain during Intercourse
- Menstrual Cycle Changes
These symptoms, as mentioned, may be common in women without ovarian cancer, but only your doctor can make the correct determination as to what the cause of your symptoms may be.