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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, 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 epithelium (surface) of the ovary and are the most common type
    • Germ cell tumours occur in 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 of ovarian cancer if you:

    • Had your first pregnancy at an older age or have never been pregnant
    • Had your menopause at a later age
    • Have a family member with ovarian cancer, especially if they have a mutated BRCA gene
    • Have endometriosis (tissues of uterine lining grows on other pelvic organs)
    • 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
  • Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

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

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