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Ovarian Cancer

  • What is Ovarian Cancer?

    Ovarian cancer is an abnormal growth of tissue in the ovary. The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system and it is where the eggs are produced. Most ovarian cancers develop on the surface of the ovary.

    There are 3 main types of ovarian cancer:

    • Epithelial tumours develop on the surface (epithelium) of the ovary and are the most common type
    • Germ cell tumours occur in the cells that produce the eggs and can develop in younger women
    • Stromal tumours develop in the tissues that produce oestrogen and progesterone – these are the hormones that control the menstrual cycle
  • You may be at risk for ovarian cancer if you:

    • Had your first pregnancy at an older age or have never been pregnant
    • Had your menopause occur at a later age
    • Have a family member with ovarian cancer (especially if they have the BRCA gene)
    • Have endometriosis (inner lining of the uterus grows outside it)
    • Have had breast cancer
    • Started to menstruate at a young age
    • Used hormone replacement therapy for more than 5 years
    • Were overweight in your early adulthood
  • The symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

    • Abdominal swelling and discomfort (feeling of pressure, fullness, or bloating)
    • Changes in bowel habits, eg. constipation
    • Loss of appetite or weight loss
    • Low back pain
    • Pain during sexual intercourse
    • Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
    • Urgency to pass urine or frequent need to urinate
  • Treatment for ovarian cancer usually involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy:

    • Chemotherapy to destroy any remaining cancer cells after surgery
    • Surgery to remove the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus and the lymph nodes
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