Basic Information About Ovarian Cancer
Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is usually named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.
Ovarian cancer is a group of diseases that originates in the ovaries, or in the related areas of the fallopian tubes and the peritoneum. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs for reproduction. Women have two fallopian tubes that are a pair of long, slender tubes on each side of the uterus. Eggs pass from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The peritoneum is the tissue lining that covers organs in the abdomen.
When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment works best. Ovarian cancer often causes signs and symptoms, so it is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional.
Some mutations (changes in genes) can raise your risk for ovarian cancer. Mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility genes 1 and 2 (BRCA1 and BRCA2), and those associated with Lynch syndrome, are the most common mutations that raise ovarian cancer risk.
Ovarian cancers come in a variety of different tumor types and subtypes. The most common tumor type is adenocarcinoma, and the most common subtype is serous adenocarcinoma. Most serous adenocarcinomas are high-grade (aggressively growing) tumors.