Medical Awareness >>   Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer

A cancer that begins in the female organs that produce eggs (ovaries).

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and stomach. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and can be fatal. Ovarian cancer often has no symptoms in the early stages. Later stages are associated with symptoms, but they can be non-specific, such as loss of appetite and weight loss. Surgery and chemotherapy are generally used to treat ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer refers to the uncontrollable growth of cells in the ovaries, the essential glands for sexual reproduction, and women's health. If a woman is fertile, her ovaries release eggs into the fallopian tubes, passageways to the uterus. Recent research has suggested that ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes for many women. For all types of ovarian cancer taken together, about 3 in 4 (72.4%) women with ovarian cancer live for at least 1 year after diagnosis. Almost half (46.2%) of women with ovarian cancer are still alive at least 5 years after diagnosis. Women diagnosed when they are younger than 65 do better than older women. On the basis of age of onset, vaginal discharge, and constitutional symptoms, ovarian cancer must be differentiated from tubo-ovarian abscess, ectopic pregnancy, hydrosalpinx, salpingitis, fallopian tube carcinoma, uterine leiomyoma, choriocarcinoma, leiomyosarcoma, pregnancy, appendiceal abscess, appendiceal neoplasm etc. A test for a tumor marker called HE4 may be done along with a CA-125 blood test. An HE4 test is most often used to monitor women who have been treated for a common type of ovarian cancer called epithelial ovarian cancer.


Diagram of the female reproductive system showing the fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina, and vulva

Image showing Parts of female reproductive system 

Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer-

Ovarian cancer is life-threatening because a few of its early symptoms are vague, and they don’t become obvious until cancer has spread, becoming difficult to cure. The most common indications of ovarian cancer involve:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full too fast
  • Urinary discomfort, unusual urgency or frequency

Ovarian cancer can also cause:

  • tiredness
  • stomach upset 
  • back pain 
  • pain during sex 
  • constipation
  • variations in the periods’ cycle
  • swelling in the abdominal area 
  • weight loss

Types of Ovarian Cancer-

Commonest from all types of ovarian cancer is epithelial cancer. It begins in the cells that cover the ovary. Two of it subtypes are-

  • Fallopian tube cancer
  • Primary peritoneal cancer

Other ovarian cancer types are stromal tumors and malignant germ cell tumors. 


Ovarian Cancer Tumor Markers | GeneTex

Etiology or Causes Of Ovarian Cancer-

  • Mutations in genes
  • Genetics
  • Lifestyle factors
  • Environmental factors 


Risk of Ovarian Cancer-

  • Those with family history of ovarian cancer
  • Inherited changes in certain genes
  • Those with lynch syndrome
  • Have endometriosis
  • Older people who have gone through menopause
  • Those who are obese and tall 




Increased age


Post menopause

Breast feeding

Genetic mutations

Use of oral contraceptives

Family history of ovarian cancer


Family history of breast or colon cancer



Ovarian cancer - Wikipedia

Probability of Ovarian Cancer


Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer-

  • Medical history including symptoms
  • Family health history if anyone in family had ovarian cancer
  • Physical examination
  • Pelvic examination
  • Certain imaging tests
  • Certain blood tests
  • Biopsy of the tissue 
  • Laparoscopy 

Factors In Staging of Ovarian Cancer-

  • Which organs are impacted by cancerous cells 
  • Through which way cancer spreads throughout the body
  • There are four stages of ovarian cancer

Prevention and prognosis of ovarian cancer is still a matter of discussion. As the research done on it is not confirmed yet. 

Ovarian Cancer Treatment-

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Targeted therapy 

Treatment for this cancer mostly starts with surgery, and most women will have an operation to remove the tumor, or at least as much of it as possible.

If the cancer is diagnosed early, the operation may be limited to removing the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. Depending on cancer and the stage, some women may keep one ovary, fallopian tube, and uterus.

If the cancer is spread, more inclusive surgery may be necessary.

Post-surgery, many patients are treated with various rounds of chemotherapy, which involves drugs that kill cancer cells. Patients will receive chemotherapy before and after surgery to shrink the tumor before it is surgically removed. 

For ovarian cancers in advanced stages, targeted therapy may also be recommended. This works by homing in on specific characteristics of cancer cells, disrupting their functioning and causing them to perish while sparing healthy cells.

Alternative therapies to ease the symptoms and side effects include Acupuncture, Massage, Meditation, Yoga, and using Herbs or oils.

Palliative care can be combined with conventional cancer treatments and appropriate therapies. This care may help patients feel better and live longer. 

Fact Check-

  • Ovarian cancer is the third most common gynecological cancer in Indian women.
  • It can be prevented somehow but research is on-going in this field. 
  • Ovarian tumors can be both benign and malignant.
  • Grade 1 ovarian cancers have a better prognosis.
  • Grade 3 ovarian cancers have a worse prognosis or outlook.
  • Type 1 ovarian cancers grow slowly and have fewer symptoms.
  • Type 2 ovarian cancers grow fast and spread sooner.
  • Ovarian cysts are a collection of fluid inside ovaries that are normal and reduce in size after some time therefore called functional cysts.
  • Stage 1 ovarian cancers are confined to ovaries.
  • Stage 2 ovarian cancers are in the ovaries and spread to the pelvic region.
  • Stage 3 ovarian cancers spread to the lining or back of abdomen and lymph nodes.
  • Stage 4 ovarian cancers metastasize to distant sites outside abdomen and pelvic regions.
  • Survival rates of some common ovarian cancer types are tabulated as below-







Stage 1





Stage 2





Stage 3





Stage 4 






PGC Resolution-

Early detection, diagnosis, and appropriate treatment for ovarian cancer in India. Spreading awareness and information of this cancer.