What is ovarian cancer?


Quick Answer

According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, ovarian cancer is a condition in which malignant abnormal or cancerous cells develop in the ovaries. Some types of tumors in the ovaries are benign and do not spread, while other tumors have low malignancy potential or are highly invasive malignant tumors.

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Full Answer

The American Cancer Society states that the most common type of ovarian cancer is called invasive epithelial ovarian carcinoma. Ovarian cancer can spread to other parts of the body, such as the rest of the pelvis area and the abdomen, through a process called metastasis. According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, in women between the ages of 35 and 74, the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related deaths is ovarian cancer.

Mayo Clinic adds that diagnosing ovarian cancer usually involves a pelvic examination. A physician conducts this test by pressing one hand on the patient's stomach and gloved fingers into the vagina to feel the uterus and ovaries. CT scans, blood tests and surgery to remove a tissue sample for testing can also be done. Treatment for ovarian cancer includes surgery to remove the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes as well as surrounding tissue that may be affected; less extensive surgery for women diagnosed at an early stage of cancer development; and chemotherapy.

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