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Definition of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancermay be defined as a disease where the normal ovarian cells begin to multiply in such an abnormal manner that it is uncontrollable. This leads to the growth of tumors in one or both ovaries of the woman concerned.  Women have two ovaries, one on either side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. An ovarian tumor is a growth of abnormal cells that may be either noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Although benign tumors are made up of abnormal cells, these cells don't spread to other body tissues (metastasize). Ovarian cancer cells metastasize in one of two ways. Generally, they spread directly to adjacent tissue or organs in the pelvis and abdomen. They can also spread through your bloodstream or lymph channels to other parts of your body.

Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common cancer in women in the U.S. with over 25,000 women newly diagnosed each year with this disease. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women and frequently does not result in symptoms until the cancer has spread extensively. Less than one-third of ovarian cancers are detected before they have spread outside of the ovaries.

Ovarian cancer actually represents a group of different tumors that arise from diverse types of tissue contained within the ovary. The most common type of ovarian cancer arises from the epithelial cells (the outside layer of cells) of the surface of the ovary. Other, rare types of ovarian cancer develop from the egg-forming germ cells or from the supporting tissue (stroma) of the organ. Benign (non-cancerous) tumors and cysts are also found in the ovary and are much more common than ovarian cancers.

According to the reports of the studies conducted by the American Cancer Society, an estimated 1 in every 56 women develop cancer in the ovary. Strangely this disease is seen to be more predominant in the developed countries. A mammoth 26,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed every year. The rate of survival for the patients is more if the cancer is diagnosed early enough. Sadly though most of the time, the disease is diagnosed well after it has spread in adjacent tissues and organs that are beyond the ovaries. Being aware of the early signs and symptoms of the disease is a good way of protecting yourself against this disease.


Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Till recently it was thought that ovarian cancer has no early symptoms, this though has been corrected. Symptoms of ovarian cancer are nonspecific and mimic those of many other more common conditions, including digestive and bladder disorders. A woman with ovarian cancer may be diagnosed with another condition before finally learning she has cancer. Common misdiagnoses include irritable bowel syndrome, stress and depression.

The key seems to be persistent or worsening signs and symptoms. With most digestive disorders, symptoms tend to come and go, or they occur in certain situations or after eating certain foods. With ovarian cancer, there's typically little fluctuation — symptoms are constant and gradually worsen.
Recent studies have shown that women with ovarian cancer are more likely than are other women to consistently experience the following symptoms:

  • Bloating stomach
  • Abdominal pressure
  • Urinary urgency at all times
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain

However most of the symptoms for ovarian cancer cannot still be identified correctly till it is too late.  Most of the women with ovarian cancer are not detected until it is 6 to 12 months old. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer in the later stages of the disease are as follows:

  • Continuous bleeding from the vagina, after menopause especially if you are not using any hormonal medicines.
  • Constant pain in the pelvis.
  • Continuous cramps in the belly.
  • Discharge of mucus, tinged with blood from the vagina.
  • Pain or bleeding symptoms noticed during sex.
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss.
  • Feeling of a lump in your belly
  • Drastic changes in bowel habits from either diarrhea to constipation.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

There are more than 30 types and subtypes of the ovarian cancer. Each of these types has its own diseased tissues, behavioral tendencies and appearance. This has led to a grouping of all ovarian cancers into three major groups. This grouping is done on the basis of the kind of cells from which they have been formed. The types of groups of ovarian cancer are:

  • Germ cell tumors, which originate from cells that are supposed to form eggs inside the ovary.
  • Epithelial tumors are those which arise from cells that line or are found around the ovaries.
  • The Sex cord-stromal cell tumors belong to the group where the connective cells holding the ovaries together and production of female hormones take place.

There are some other tumors which are formed adjacent to the ovarian tissues; this may classify them as ovarian cancer. Even the symptoms and treatment of such cases is very much like that of the ovarian cancer.


Ovarian Cancer Causes

Most research has yet failed to pin point the exact reason behind the occurrence of ovarian cancer.>There have been however, some common tendencies identified in those detected with the disease. This has led to a summing up of what might be some of the probable factors leading to ovarian cancer.>

Some of these causes for ovarian cancer are-
Age- Most of the cases of ovarian cancer has been detected in women above a certain age. This age group generally tends towards older women in the age group of 50 plus.

Childbearing- It has been noticed that women who have never had the experience of bearing children are more likely to develop an ovarian cancer than those who have not given birth. Also the more children a woman has the less are the chances of this type of Cancer.

Family history- As in most major diseases, the hereditary factor, is very important for gauging the chances of developing ovarian cancer. Close relatives or the first degree relatives of the woman who has ovarian cancer stand to have the same. This chance is more serious if two or more first-degree relatives have the same disease.Doctors warn that a family history of breast or colon cancer is also at times a probable cause of developing ovarian cancer.

Fertility drugs- Though still in its nascent stage of research, women who have taken long doses of fertility drugs, for the purpose of ovulation are prone to developing ovarian cancer.

A personal history- Those women who have had an experience of breast or colon cancer are at greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than those without such experiences.

Talc- Unknown to you, the innocent use of Talc by women over a prolonged period may also lead to ovarian cancer feel medical researchers.

Hormone replacement therapy – There are plenty of other researchers who believe that women who have used the Hormone replacement therapy, especially after their menopause may also run a risk of having ovarian cancer.


Next Steps:

While you may find this medical information useful, as the next step we strongly recommend that you make an appointment to see one of our physicians to ensure that your health issues are properly addressed.

To schedule an appointment with our physicians, please call our patient coordinator at 1-212-679-9667, send the form below or an email to: info@patientsmedical.com. We are currently accepting new patients and look forward to being of assistance.

We are located at: Patients Medical PC, 800 Second Avenue, Suite 900 (Between 42nd & 43rd Street), Manhattan, NYC, New York, NY 10017.

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Article Last Updated: 08/26/2015