Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries, the two female reproductive glands located on either side of the uterus. Approximately 21,980 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in 2014, making it the second most common type of gynecologic cancer. Because the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often overlooked or mistaken for common illnesses, this disease often goes undiagnosed until it progresses to more advanced stages. At that point, it is typically more widespread and more difficult to treat.
Malignant or cancerous tumors of the ovaries are comprised of three possible cell types: epithelial, germ or stromal cells.
Ovarian cancer can invade, shed, or spread to other organs.
When cancer spreads from its original place to another part of the body, the new tumor has the same kind of abnormal cells and the same name as the original tumor. For example, if ovarian cancer spreads to the liver, the cancer cells in the liver are actually ovarian cancer cells. The disease is metastatic ovarian cancer, not liver cancer. For that reason, it is treated as ovarian cancer, not liver cancer. Doctors call the new tumor "distant" or metastatic disease.
We understand the seriousness and complexity of this disease. We know that to treat ovarian cancer effectively requires not just one but many approaches, beginning with advanced screening and genetic testing to promote early detection, followed by surgery, chemotherapy and, occasionally, radiation. We believe with continued research, we will be able to push the boundaries of standard treatment even further to offer our patients innovative alternatives such as targeted drug therapies and vaccines. We accept that ovarian cancer is one of the more difficult gynecologic cancers to treat, but we take on the challenge with confidence.
Not all women who develop ovarian cancer have a family history of the disease or any other known risk factors beyond advanced age. For these women, physical symptoms may be the only indicator that cancer is present. These symptoms are often overlooked or get mistaken for common illness, so the disease may go undetected until it has progressed beyond treatment.
Women experiencing the following symptoms for more than two weeks should consult a physician: