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Ovarian cancer is an uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells in the ovary or ovaries of the female reproductive system. Ovarian cancer, also called cancer of the ovary, is a very serious cancer and one of the leading causes of death from cancer in women.
There are two ovaries in a woman's body, which contain a woman's eggs and produce female hormones. This hormone-rich environment may encourage the growth of ovarian cancer cells.
Ovarian cancer begins as a malignant tumor that grows on the ovary. From the ovary, ovarian cancer can spread to other organs in the pelvis and abdomen or through the bloodstream to other parts of the body.
The cause of ovarian cancer is not yet known, but ovarian cancer may be due to mutations of certain genes. Risk factors for the development of ovarian cancer include having breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) or breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2), which also increases the risk of developing breast cancer.Women more likely to carry these gene mutations are those of Eastern European or Ashkenazi descent.
Other risk factors for ovarian cancer include having a mother, sister or daughter with ovarian cancer, or having a personal history of breast cancer or colorectal cancer. Women who have never had children or have taken fertility drugs are also at higher risk for developing ovarian cancer. Women past the age of 50 also have a higher risk.
On the flip side, there is a decreased risk for ovarian cancer in women who have been on the birth-control pill.
There are generally no symptoms of ovarian cancer until it has progressed to an advanced stage. For detailed information about important symptoms of advanced stages of ovarian cancer and its complications, refer to symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Diagnosing ovarian cancer and its stage of advancement begins with taking a thorough personal and family medical history, including symptoms and risk factors for ovarian cancer. Diagnosis also includes completing a physical examination that includes a pelvic exam. During the pelvic examination, the health care practitioner uses an instrument called a speculum to help visualize and assess some reproductive organs, including the vagina and cervix. The ovaries will also be felt for size and shape during the pelvic exam.
There is no screening test to screen for ovarian cancer. A Pap smear test only screens for cervical cancer.
If ovarian cancer is suspected, an imaging test called an ultrasound will be performed to visualize the size and shape of the ovaries. Other imaging tests that may be done include CT and PET scans.
A blood test, called a CA-125 test may also be performed in conjunction with imaging tests and exams. A CA-125 test result may be altered in a variety of other less serious diseases, such as uterine fibroids and endometriosis, and is not a definitive test for diagnosing ovarian cancer.
If test results, medical history, risk factors, and exams point to a diagnosis of ovarian cancer, surgery will be performed to do a biopsy of the ovaries. A biopsy is the only definitive diagnostic test for ovarian cancer. It includes taking a sample of the ovaries to examine under a microscope for the presence of ovarian cancer cells.
Because there are generally no symptoms of ovarian cancer in early stages, seeking medical care and making a diagnosis can be delayed. When symptoms do appear they can mimic symptoms of less serious diseases and conditions. For information about misdiagnosis and diseases that can mimic ovarian cancer, refer to misdiagnosis of ovarian cancer. More than half of all women with ovarian cancer will die of the disease. The best chance for successful treatment and a cure occurs when the disease is caught in its earliest stage. Treatment of ovarian cancer involves surgery, medication, and radiation therapy. For more detailed information on treatment, refer to treatment of ovarian cancer....more »
Because most women have no symptoms of ovarian cancer in its early stage, it is easy to miss a diagnosis of the disease when it is most treatable and most curable. Untreated or advancing cervical cancer is often fatal.
Symptoms of cervical cancer often do not appear until late stages of the disease. These symptoms are vague and mimic symptoms of ...more misdiagnosis »
The following medical conditions are some of the possible
causes of Ovarian cancer.
There are likely to be other possible causes, so ask your doctor
about your symptoms.
Home medical tests possibly related to Ovarian cancer:
Review the causes of these more specific types of Ovarian cancer:
Listed below are some combinations of symptoms associated with Ovarian cancer, as listed in our database. Visit the Symptom Checker, to add and remove symptoms and research your condition.
In some cases, ovarian cancer may be prevented in women who are at a high risk for the disease by removing the ovaries.
Once ovarian cancer has developed, the best chance for successful treatment and a cure occurs when ovarian cancer is caught in its earliest stage. Unfortunately, more than half of all women with ovarian cancer will die of the disease.
Treatment of ovarian cancer is ...Ovarian cancer Treatments
Some of the possible treatments listed in sources for treatment of Ovarian cancer may include:
Review further information on Ovarian cancer Treatments.
Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed as possibly helpful for Ovarian cancer may include:
Real-life user stories relating to Ovarian cancer:
Some of the comorbid or associated medical symptoms for Ovarian cancer may include these symptoms:
Research the causes of these more general types of symptom:
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Research the causes of these symptoms that are similar to, or related to, the symptom Ovarian cancer:
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Research extensive quality ratings and patient safety measures for hospitals, clinics and medical facilities in health specialties related to Ovarian cancer:
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Conditions that are commonly undiagnosed in related areas may include:
A malignant neoplasm originating from the surface ovarian epithelium. It accounts for the greatest number of deaths from malignancies of the female genital tract and is the fifth leading cause of cancer fatalities in women. It is predominantly a disease of older white women of northern European extraction, but it is seen in all ages and ethnic groups. Adenocarcinomas constitute the vast majority of ovarian carcinomas. The pattern of metastatic spread in ovarian carcinoma is similar regardless of the microscopic type. The most common sites of involvement are the contralateral ovary, peritoneal cavity, para-aortic and pelvic lymph nodes, and liver. Lung and pleura are the most common sites of extra-abdominal spread. The primary form of therapy is surgical. The overall prognosis of ovarian carcinoma remains poor, a direct result of its rapid growth rate and the lack of early symptoms. --2002
- (Source - Diseases Database)
Cancer that forms in tissues of the ovary. Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in cells that line the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).
- (Source - National Cancer Institute)
Ovarian cancer is listed as a "rare disease" by the Office of
Rare Diseases (ORD) of the National Institutes of Health
(NIH). This means that Ovarian cancer, or a subtype of Ovarian cancer,
affects less than 200,000 people in the US population.
- (Source - National Institute of Health)
The list below shows some of the causes of Ovarian cancer mentioned in various sources:
This information refers to the general prevalence and incidence of these diseases, not to how likely they are to be the actual cause of Ovarian cancer. Of the 4 causes of Ovarian cancer that we have listed, we have the following prevalence/incidence information:
The following list of conditions have 'Ovarian cancer' or similar listed as a symptom in our database. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
Select from the following alphabetical view of conditions which include a symptom of Ovarian cancer or choose View All.
The following list of medical conditions have Ovarian cancer or similar listed as a medical complication in our database. The distinction between a symptom and complication is not always clear, and conditions mentioning this symptom as a complication may also be relevant. This computer-generated list may be inaccurate or incomplete. Always seek prompt professional medical advice about the cause of any symptom.
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Subtypes of Ovarian cancer:
Ovarian tumour (13 causes)
Medical Conditions associated with Ovarian cancer:
Ovary symptoms (68 causes), Female sexual symptoms (505 causes), Female reproductive symptoms (928 causes), Women's health symptoms (1177 causes), Cancer-related symptoms (173 causes), Digestive symptoms (5299 causes), Abdominal symptoms (5930 causes), Pregnancy symptoms (699 causes), Fertility symptoms (370 causes), Sexual symptoms (1838 causes), Genital symptoms (986 causes), Intercourse symptoms (258 causes), Mens health symptoms (291 causes), Lower abdominal symptoms (3048 causes), Female genital symptoms (529 causes)
Symptoms related to Ovarian cancer:
Ovary symptoms (68 causes), Ovary cysts, Abdominal pain (2568 causes), Serous cystadenocarcinoma, Mucinous cystadenoma, Dermoid cyst, Krukenberg tumour, Granulosa cell tumour, Dysgerminoma, Bloating (201 causes), Dyspareunia (100 causes), Diarrhoea (2312 causes), Back pain (479 causes), Teratoma, Chemotherapy, Radiotherapy, arrhenoblastoma
Doctor-patient articles related to symptoms and diagnosis:
These general medical articles may be of interest:
Medical research papers related to Ovarian cancer include:
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