Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.
Most ovarian cancers start in the epithelium, or outer lining, of the ovary.
In the early stages, there may be few or no symptoms.
Symptoms may resemble those of other conditions, such as premenstrual syndrome (PMS), irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), or a temporary bladder problem.
The main difference between ovarian cancer and other possible disorders is the persistence and gradual worsening of symptoms.
Early symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
As the cancer progresses, there may also be:
If an individual experiences bloating, pressure, or pain in the abdomen or pelvis that lasts for more than a few weeks they should see a doctor immediately
Surgery and chemotherapy are generally used to treat ovarian cancer.