Ovarian cancer as its name suggests is a cancer that originates in the ovaries. It usually occurs in women over 50, but can also affect younger women.
The ovaries are one of the most important components of the female reproductive system. These tiny little organs are only about the size of an almond, but they are responsible for producing new life: quite a big job for something so small. The ovary is primarily responsible for maturing and releasing eggs into the fallopian tubes. It also produces two important hormones in the female body: progesterone and estrogen. The hormones are important for regulating the reproductive system and promoting women’s overall health. Now that the ovaries are understood, it is time to overview the types of ovarian cancer.
Overview of the types of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer will erupt from one or more of three cell types: Surface Epithelium (cells in the lining of the ovary), Stromal cells (which connect different structures within the ovary and produce hormones), and Germ Cells (cells that later become eggs). The first order of business when tumors or cysts are discovered within or around the ovaries is to determine whether they are malignant or benign. Benign tumors are usually harmless while malignant tumors tend to be cancerous. Cysts can be malignant or benign as well, but most cysts are usually benign. The malignant tumors and cysts can be life threatening and could possibly invade or damage nearby organs if they are not treated early. Up to 90% of all ovarian cancers are Epithelial Ovarian Carcinomas, and many women affected are not diagnosed or treated until it is in its later stages; thus influencing the high rate of mortality among this disease. In order to find out which women are susceptible to this form of cancer, it is important to learn the risk factors and causes.
Risk Factors and Causes
While ovarian cancer seems to be hard for many practitioners to catch, evaluating the many risks factors associated with ovarian cancer can help women to assess their susceptibility to the disease. For women who have never had children, there seems to be a heightened risk of cancer in the reproductive organs and breasts. Having a previous history of cancer is also a strong risk factor as it shows that a woman’s body is already susceptible to the cell mutation that results in ovarian cancer. If a previous diagnosis of cancer never occurred, a family history that includes ovarian cancer is a very big risk factor as well. You can learn much more about these risk factors and others on our “Risk Factors” page. If many of the risk factors for this disease apply to a woman, she should learn and recognize the many warning signs or symptoms of this cancer before it becomes too late.