Ovarian cancer happens
when cells that are not normal grow in one or both of your
ovaries. The ovaries are two small glands, located on either side of your uterus. They produce female sex hormones and store and release eggs (ova).
Treatments for ovarian cancer are more successful when the cancer is found early. But most of the time, cancer has already spread by the
time it is found.
This topic is about epithelial ovarian
cancer. This is cancer that grows in the tissue covering the ovaries. It is the most common type of ovarian cancer and usually occurs in women who are past menopause.
Experts don't know
exactly what causes ovarian cancer. But they do know that
DNA changes play a role in many cancers.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Recent, frequent bloating.
Pain in the belly or pelvis.
- Trouble eating, or feeling full quickly.
Urinary problems, such as an urgent need to urinate or urinating more often
These symptoms may be common in
women who don't have ovarian cancer. But if these symptoms are new for you, and they happen almost daily for 2 to 3 weeks, you should see a doctor.
doctor may feel a lump in or on an ovary during a routine
pelvic exam. Often a lump may be seen during an
ultrasound. Most lumps aren't cancer.
If your doctor thinks you may have ovarian cancer, you may have a blood test called CA-125 (cancer
antigen 125). Too much CA-125 in your blood can be a sign of ovarian cancer. But too much CA-125 in the blood can be caused by many
things, such as the menstrual cycle, endometriosis, and uterine fibroids.
The only way to know for sure that a woman has ovarian cancer is with
biopsies taken during surgery. Tissue samples will be sent to a lab to see if they contain cancer.
Surgery is the main treatment.
The doctor will remove any tumors that he or she can see. This usually means
taking out one or both ovaries. It may also mean taking out the fallopian tubes
and uterus. Chemotherapy is often part of treatment. It may be given before and after surgery.
When you find out that you have cancer, you may feel many emotions and may need some help coping. Talking
with other women who are going through the same thing may help. Your doctor or your local branch of the American
Cancer Society can help you find a support group.