What is Ovarian Cancer? 

Ovarian cancer occurs when an abnormal cell develops in the ovary or fallopian tubes and forms a tumor.  

Ovaries are the female reproductive gland and the main source of estrogen and progesterone. One ovary is found on the left side of the uterus and one ovary is found on the right side. 

Ovarian cancer is known as a silent cancer, because the symptoms are so general that they may go unnoticed. 

There are three types of cancerous ovarian tumors. 

  • Epithelial— The most common and originate from cells outside of the ovary.
  • Germ cell—Originate from the cells that produce eggs. 
  • Stromal—Originate from tissue that holds the ovary together and produce progesterone and estrogen. 

What are the early symptoms of ovarian cancer?

  • General abdominal discomfort, such as gas, bloating, indigestion or cramping
  • Frequent urination 
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Irregular bleeding

Be sure to have open discussions with your provider about any symptoms you may be experiencing. It is extremely important to schedule your annual well-woman exam to ensure that you have regular gynecologic visits. If you have an abnormal pap smear, you may be referred to a gynecologic oncologist, a doctor who specializes in the treatment of abnormal cells. Commonly, women with ovarian cancer will have an ovarian cyst or a pelvic mass visible on ultrasound or CT scan and may be referred to a gynecologic oncologist for further evaluation.

Additional reference links: 

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition – http://www.ovarian.org/

American Cancer Society – https://www.cancer.org/cancer/ovarian-cancer.html

National Cancer Institute – https://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian

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