Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments

Tanuja Bisht

, Treatments

Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells of the ovary begin to grow uncontrollably and form a tumor. Untreated, the tumor can spread to other parts of the body. This is called metastatic ovarian carcinoma. The ovaries are two female reproductive glands that produce eggs. They also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.


More than 22,000 women will develop ovarian cancer in upcoming years and 14,000 women will die from it.


It often has warning signs, but early symptoms are vague and easy to exclude. Approximately 20% of ovarian cancers are discovered at an early stage.


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What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that starts in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries, each about the size of an almond, produce eggs and the hormones estrogen and progesterone.


Ovarian cancer is often discovered only after it has spread to the pelvis and stomach. At this advanced stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and often fatal.


Surgery and chemotherapy are usually used to treat cancer.




What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

It is difficult to detect cancer, especially in the early stages. This is because the ovaries are two small, almond-shaped organs on both sides of the uterus that are located deep within the abdominal cavity. Following are some usually identified symptoms of cancer by women:

  • Bloating


  • Pelvic or abdominal pain


  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly


  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often


Other symptoms of cancer can include:


  • Fatigue


  • Back pain


  • Pain during sex


  • Upset stomach or heartburn


  • Constipation or menstrual changes


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What are the Causes of Ovarian Cancer?

There are several causes of cancer. However, exactly why this happens is not clear.

  • Family history
  • Age
  • Reproductive history
  • Birth control
  • Infertility or fertility treatment
  • Breast cancer
  • Hormone therapy
  • Obesity and overweight
  • Gynecologic surgery
  • Endometriosis




What are the Treatments for Ovarian Cancer?

The treatment of cancer depends on how far cancer has spread in the body. Following are some options for treating it.

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation
  • Surgery to stage cancer and remove the tumor
  • Targeted therapy
  • Hormone therapy




Can Ovarian Cancer be Prevented?

There are no proven methods to totally reduce the risk of developing cancer. However, there are some steps that can take to lower the risk of further development including;

  • Taking oral birth control pills
  • Breastfeeding
  • Pregnancy
  • Surgical procedures on reproductive organs (such as tubal ligation or hysterectomy)





Ovarian cancer refers to cancerous growth that begins in the ovary (reproductive part of the female body). It is also one of the most common causes of cancer deaths in women. It can be treated easily when detected early.


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