What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian Cancer is cancer that develops in the ovaries. The ovaries are part of a woman's reproductive system. They are locate in the pelvis on either side of the uterus. The ovaries make the female hormone proesterone and estrogen and also releases eggs into the fallopian tubes.

Cancer begins at cellular level. Normally, cells grow and divide to form new cells. These new cells take place of old cells as they die. Cancer cells continue to grow and divide. These abnormal cells continue to create new cells, forming a tumor.


Signs And Symptoms

Ovarian Cancer symptoms are often subtle and difficult to diagnose. Research suggests that there are four symptoms that may be associated with Ovarian Cancer.

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

Other symptoms may include

  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Backaches

Talk to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2 - 3 weeks. You are your best advocate.


Your doctor may do the following tests:

  • Physical Exam- your doctor will palpate your abdomen to look for discomfort and tenderness, or abnormal fluid.
  • Pelvic Exam
  • Blood Test- Your doctor may order a CA-125 blood test. It measures CA-125 in your blood. CA-125 is found on the surface of Ovarian Cancer cells and also normal tissue. A higher level or CA-125 may indicate Ovarian Cancer or other conditions.
  • Ultrasound
  • Biopsy


The Stages of Ovarian Cancer

There are four primary stages of Ovarian Cancer. Your doctor will determine your stage of Ovarian Cancer. Each stage of Ovarian Cancer is treated differently.

Stage I: The cancer is completely contained within the ovary or ovaries

Stage II: The cancer is in one or both of the ovaries and has spread to additional organs located in the pelvis such as the bladder, colon, rectum or uterus.

Stage III: The cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to one or both of the following: the lining of the abdomen or the lymph nodes.

Stage IV: The most advanced stage of cancer. The cancer has spread from one or both ovaries to additional organs such as the liver or lungs, or there may be cancer cells in the fluid surrounding the lungs.

Recurrent: The cancer has returned after successful treatment.


Risk Factors

Ovarian cancer does not discriminate. It can strike a woman of any race or at any age. We do know that women with certain risk factors may have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer. These risk factors include:

  1. Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
  2. Personal history of cancer
  3. Women over the age of 55
  4. Women who were never pregnant
  5. Women on menopausal hormone replacement therapy


 Resources: http://www.ovariancancerawareness.org/

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