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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer: Introduction

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 »

Ovarian Cancer: Cancer of the ovaries. More detailed information about the symptoms, causes, and treatments of Ovarian Cancer is available below.

Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms

Ovarian cancer generally produces no symptoms in its earliest stages. When symptoms do occur, they may indicate that ovarian cancer has progressed to advanced stages. Symptoms may include bloating, pelvic pain, loss of appetite, and feeling full quickly after eating a small amount of food. A woman with ovarian cancer may also experience strong ...more symptoms »

Ovarian Cancer: Treatments

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 ...more treatments »

Ovarian Cancer: Misdiagnosis

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 many less ...more misdiagnosis »

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Treatments for Ovarian Cancer

Home Diagnostic Testing

Home medical testing related to Ovarian Cancer:

Wrongly Diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer: Related Patient Stories

Ovarian Cancer: Deaths

Read more about Deaths and Ovarian Cancer.

Alternative Treatments for Ovarian Cancer

Alternative treatments or home remedies that have been listed in various sources as possibly beneficial for Ovarian Cancer may include:

Types of Ovarian Cancer

  • Epithelial ovarian cancers - about 85-90% of cases
    • Serous cell epithelial ovarian cancer
    • Mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer
    • Endometrioid epithelial ovarian cancer
    • Clear cell epithelial ovarian cancer
  • more types...»

Curable Types of Ovarian Cancer

Possibly curable types of Ovarian Cancer include:

  • Serous cystadenoma
  • Mucinous cystadenoma
  • Granulosa cell tumour
  • more types...»

Rare Types of Ovarian Cancer:

Rare types of Ovarian Cancer include:

Diagnostic Tests for Ovarian Cancer

Test for Ovarian Cancer in your own home

Click for Tests

Ovarian Cancer: Complications

Read more about complications of Ovarian Cancer.

Causes of Ovarian Cancer

More information about causes of Ovarian Cancer:

Disease Topics Related To Ovarian Cancer

Research the causes of these diseases that are similar to, or related to, Ovarian Cancer:

Ovarian Cancer: Undiagnosed Conditions

Commonly undiagnosed diseases in related medical categories:

Misdiagnosis and Ovarian Cancer

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Misdiagnosed weight-related causes of infertility: A woman's weight status can affect her level of fertility. Although obesity or overweight can in themselves reduce fertility, there are other weight-related more »

Ovarian Cancer: Research Doctors & Specialists

Research related physicians and medical specialists:

Other doctor, physician and specialist research services:

Hospitals & Clinics: Ovarian Cancer

Research quality ratings and patient safety measures for medical facilities in specialties related to Ovarian Cancer:

Choosing the Best Hospital: More general information, not necessarily in relation to Ovarian Cancer, on hospital performance and surgical care quality:

Ovarian Cancer: Rare Types

Rare types of diseases and disorders in related medical categories:

Latest Treatments for Ovarian Cancer

Evidence Based Medicine Research for Ovarian Cancer

Medical research articles related to Ovarian Cancer include:

Click here to find more evidence-based articles on the TRIP Database

Ovarian Cancer: Animations

Prognosis for Ovarian Cancer

Prognosis for Ovarian Cancer: Ovarian cancer is a particularly aggressive cancer and is rarely detected in its early stages.

Research about Ovarian Cancer

Visit our research pages for current research about Ovarian Cancer treatments.

Clinical Trials for Ovarian Cancer

The US based website lists information on both federally and privately supported clinical trials using human volunteers.

Some of the clinical trials listed on for Ovarian Cancer include:

Prevention of Ovarian Cancer

Prevention information for Ovarian Cancer has been compiled from various data sources and may be inaccurate or incomplete. None of these methods guarantee prevention of Ovarian Cancer.

  • Prophylactic ovary removal - early removal of the ovaries; usually only considered for very strongly inherited subtypes.
  • more preventions...»

Statistics for Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer: Broader Related Topics

Ovarian Cancer Message Boards

Related forums and medical stories:

User Interactive Forums

Read about other experiences, ask a question about Ovarian Cancer, or answer someone else's question, on our message boards:

Definitions of Ovarian Cancer:

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)

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 Institutes of Health (NIH)


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