Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are the egg-producing female reproductive glands. Ovarian cysts, which are small collections of fluid inside an ovary, are not uncommon and usually go away on their own over the course of a few months. A small number of cysts could end up being malignant cancers.
Ovaries are made up of three types of cells, each of which can give rise to a different type of ovarian cancer:
- Epithelial tumors – begin in the cells on the outer surface of the ovaries; the majority of ovarian tumors are epithelial tumors.
- Germ cell tumors – begin in the cells that form the eggs produced by the ovaries; less than 2 percent of ovarian cancers are germ cell tumors.
- Stromal cells tumors – begin in the tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce hormones; about 1 percent of ovarian cancers are stromal cell tumors.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
The American Cancer Society estimates that approximately 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the United States annually. It is the ninth most common cancer among women and is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women.
Risk factors include:
- Being a woman over the age of 40
- Being obese
- Taking estrogen therapy or hormone therapy
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer
- Not having children or not breastfeeding
- Having had breast cancer
Signs & Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
See your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite of feeling full too quickly
- Chronic bloating or abdominal swelling
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Urinary tract problems (always feeling like you have to urinate)
- Pain during sex
Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis & Treatment
Screening tests like pelvic exams and Pap tests are generally not effective at detecting ovarian cancer. Two screening tests that are available – the transvaginal ultrasound and the CA-125 tumor marker blood test – show some success in detecting ovarian cancer. Diagnostic tests for women who are at a high risk for ovarian cancer or who have exhibited the above symptoms may include:
- Lymph node biopsy
- Pelvic laparoscopy
- Pelvic ultrasound
Ovarian cancer will likely be treated with a combination of surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy.
Ovarian Cancer Education, Screenings & Treatment at BayCare
BayCare is proud to offer a variety of cancer services throughout Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg and all of Tampa Bay. Call (855) 314-8346 for a physician referral or find a doctor near you.