Ovarian cancer affects the ovaries and only occurs in women. The ovaries are oval-shaped organs located in the pelvis and are part of the female reproductive system. They are connected to the fallopian tubes and produce female hormones and release eggs to be fertilised. When an egg is released each month, it is carried down into the womb for fertilisation. If the egg isn’t fertilised, they are passed through the womb as a monthly period.
Most ovarian cancer start in the cells on the surface of the ovaries, these are referred to as epithelial ovarian cancers. Some cancers also occur in the fallopian tubes, but both epithelial and fallopian tube cancers are treated with similar treatment methods.
The other types of ovarian cancer are:
Borderline tumours – Borderline tumours aren’t cancerous but are abnormal cells, and like epithelial cancer cells, they form on the surface of the ovaries. These types of abnormal cells rarely develop into cancer, they usually grow slowly and aren’t likely to spread.
Germ cell ovarian cancer – These are tumours of the ovary and are referred to as non-epithelial tumours. They usually affect young women and are very rare.
Symptoms caused by ovarian cancer can depend on where in the ovaries it is situated and the rate at which it is growing. Some people may have symptoms, whereas others may not experience any.
Here are some common symptoms that may be experienced:
A feeling of pressure or fullness in the tummy
Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
Gradual swelling of the tummy
High temperatures and pain in the abdomen
Needing to urinate more often (and more urgently) and changes in bowl habits
Pain during sex
Pain in the pelvis or tummy
Signs of pregnancy
Unexplained or extreme tiredness
Unexplained weight gain or weight loss