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Educate yourself on ovarian cancer

What are ovaries?

Each female has two ovaries that are almond size shaped and are on each side of the uterus. The ovaries produce eggs and hormones such as estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is malignant cells that are present in the ovaries. Abnormal cells (cancer cells) will accumulate and form a tumor. If cancer cells “break off” from the tumor they can go into the blood stream or lymph nodes and travel to other organs or parts of the body which is called metastasis.

Types of ovarian cancer:

If the ovarian cancer started outside of the ovaries, in the thin layer that covers the ovaries it is called- Epithelial tumors

* This is the most common one

In younger females ovarian cancer usually begins in the egg-producing cells – this is called- Germ cell tumors

Cancer cells found in the tissue where hormones are produced is called- Stromal tumors

Stages:

Stage I – The cancer is only in the ovary or ovaries.

Stage IA – Cancer is in one ovary and the tumor is only in the inside of the ovary. There is no cancer outside of the ovary. There is no fluid containing cancer cells.

Stage IB – Cancer is found inside both ovaries but not outside of the ovary. There is no fluid containing cancer cells.

Stage IC – The tumor has either Stage IA or IB plus : there is also a tumor found outside the surface of the ovary or ovaries.; or the tumor capsule ruptured and there is fluid containing cancer cells.

Stage II – Tumor involves the ovary or both ovaries and involves the pelvis.

Stage IIA – Cancer has spread to the uterus or fallopian tubes, or both.

Stage IIB – Cancer has spread to pelvic organs.

Stage IIC – The tumor has Stage IIA or IIB plus: tumor is found outside of ovary or ovaries, the tumor capsule has ruptured and there is fluid present with cancer cells.

* Most women are diagnosed in advanced stages- Stage lll and lV

Stage III – Cancer spread to beyond the pelvic region to the lining of the abdomen, lymph nodes, small bowel and omentum.

Stage IIIA – Cancer is visible in the ovaries, but no cancer is visible in the abdomen However, under the microscope cancer cells may be seen in the abdominal peritoneal surfaces.

Stage IIIB – Cancer is visible in the ovaries and abdomen. Deposits in abdomen are smaller than 2 cm in diameter. It has not spread to the lymph nodes.

Stage IIIC – Cancer is visible is in the ovaries, the cancer has spread to lymph nodes and the deposits in the abdomen are bigger than 2 cm in diameter.

Stage IV – The most advanced stage of ovarian cancer. Cancer is visible, deposits are bigger than 2 cm in diameter and spread beyond the ovaries to organs outside of peritoneal cavity. Cancer cells are also found in the pleural cavity (around the lungs)

References: National Ovarian Cancer Coalition