Ovarian cancer

By T'Anna Hunt

What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries . Which ovaries are reproductive glands found only in females . Ovaries produce eggs for reproduction . Which the eggs travel through the fallopian tubes into the uterus where the fertilized egg implants and develops into a fetus ( baby ) .The ovaries are the main source of female hormones estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries have 3 main kinds of cells and each cell can develop into a different type of tumor

  1. Epithelial tumors ; start from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary . Most ovarian tumors are epithelial cell tumors
  2. Germ cell tumors ; start from the cells that produce the eggs
  3. Stromal tumors; start from structural tissue cells that hold the ovary together and produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone


Most of the tumors are benign (non-cancerous) and never spread beyond the ovary . Benign tumors can be treated by removing either ovary or the part of the ovary that contains the tumor

Malignant (cancerous) or low malignant potiential ovarion tumors can spread (metastasize) to other parts and be fatal . The main treatments for ovarian cancer are

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone Threapy
  • Targeted Threapy
  • Radiation Threapy

Often two or more different types of treatments are used

Survival Rate

The 5 year survival rate refers to the percentage of patients who live at least 5 years after their cancer is diagnosed . For all types of ovarian cancer the 5 year relative survival rate is 45% . Woman are diagnosed when they are younger then 65 do better then older woman . If ovarian cancer is found and treated before the cancer has spread outside the ovary ( stages lA and lB) , the 5 year relative survival rate is 92% . However ,only 15 % of all ovarian cancers are found at this early stage .

What Causes Ovarian Cancer ?

Researcher's dont know exactly what causes most ovarian cancers ,they know some factors that make a woman more likely to develop epithelial ovarian cancer. Much less is known about risk factors for germ cell and stromal tomors of the ovaries . There are some theroies that pregnancy and taking birth control lower the risk of ovarian cancer since both of these things reduce the number of times the ovary releases an egg ( ovulation ) . Researcher's think that there may be a relationship between ovulation and the risk of developing ovarian cancer. They also know that tubal ligation and hysterectomy lower the risk of ovarian cancer. One theory to explain this is that some cancer causing substances may enter the body through the vagina and pass through the uterus and fallopian tubes to reach the ovaries . Which would explain why removing the uterus or blocking the fallopian tubes affects ovarian cancer risk . Another theory is that male hormones (androgens) can cause ovarian cancer.
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