Delta Medix Patient General Information

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer forms in tissues of the ovary (one of a pair of female reproductive glands in which the eggs are formed). Each ovary is about the size of an almond. The most common type of ovarian cancer is ovarian epithelial cancer. It begins in the tissue that covers the ovaries.

Ovarian cancer can invade, shed, or spread to other organs in the body. Cancer cells may enter blood vessels or lymph vessels, which branch into all tissues of the body. The cancer cells may attach to other tissues and grow to form new tumors. The spread of cancer cells is called metastasis.

Early ovarian cancer may not cause obvious symptoms. As the cancer grows however, symptoms may include

  • Pressure or pain in the abdomen, pelvis, back, or legs
  • A swollen or bloated stomach
  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
  • Feeling very tired all the time
  • Shortness of breath
  • Feeling the need to urinate often
  • Unusual vaginal bleeding (heavy periods or bleeding after menopause)

Most often these symptoms are not due to cancer, but only a doctor can tell for sure. Any woman with these symptoms should tell her doctor.

Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer

  • Surgery is used to remove ovarian cancer. The surgeon may remove ovaries and fallopian tubes, the uterus, the omentum (the pad of tissue which covers the intestines), nearby lymph nodes, and samples of tissue from the pelvis and the abdomen. If cancer has spread, the surgeon removes as much cancer as possible. This is called “debulking” surgery.
  • Chemotherapy uses anticancer drugs to kill cancer cells. Most women have chemotherapy for ovarian cancer after surgery. Some women have chemotherapy before surgery. Anticancer drugs for ovarian cancer can be given by vein or mouth, and also directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy).
  • Radiation therapy uses high-energy rays to kill cancer cells. Radiation therapy is rarely used in the initial treatment of ovarian cancer, but it may be used to relieve pain and other problems caused by the disease.