“This information may save your life or the life of someone you love…”

 What Is Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer often begins in the ovaries when cells multiply abnormally, forming tumors. Some tumors are benign (harmless), while others are malignant (cancerous). Ovarian cancer may also begin in the tissue around or near the ovaries, called the peritoneum, which has the same stem cell as the ovaries. Primary Peritoneal Cancer (PPC) occurs when the ovaries have already been removed or are present but minimally involved. PPC accounts for 20% of ovarian cancers.

Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop. However, recent studies have shown that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

Ovarian cancers were previously believed to begin only in the ovaries but recent evidence suggests they may actually start in the far distal end of the fallopian tubes. Ovaries are mainly made up of three kinds of cells. Each type can develop into a different type of tumor.

  • Epithelial tumors start from cells that cover other surfaces of the ovary. Most ovarian tumors are epithelial cell tumors.
  • Germ cell tumors start from cells that produce the eggs (ova)
  • Stromal tumors start from structural cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female estrogen and progesterone.

Ovarian cancer kills more women than all other gynecologic cancers combined. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States. Ovarian cancer affects one in 69 women. Fortunately, ovarian cancer is treatable when caught early; however, the vast majority of cases are not diagnosed until the disease has spread. Only 20% of ovarian cancer is caught early. For more information click here

“First and foremost, if detected at an early stage, ovarian cancer is more treatable and 90% curable!”

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Consensus Statement

“Many people believe there are no symptoms for ovarian cancer but the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and the American Cancer Society formed a consensus statement released June 13, 2007.”

Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

Several other symptoms commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.

Additional symptoms may be subtle, such as an increased waistline, persistent indigestion that has no apparent cause and does not respond to medicine, unexplained weight loss or gain, changes in bowel habits, and gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, or indigestion. Discuss any changes with your doctor.

If you Suspect You have Ovarian Cancer

Insist on seeing your gynecologist right away. You will need a bi-manual exam, a CA-125 blood test or a trans-vaginal sonogram.

Don’t hesitate!