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Key Information About Ovarian Cancer

Updated on August 17, 2022
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Srikanth is passionate about helping people improve their quality of life.


Ovaries are two reproductive organs that store eggs and produce estrogen and other hormones.

Ovarian cancer is a scary disease that affects women. In this form of cancer, certain cells in the ovary become abnormal and multiply uncontrollably to form a tumor.

A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Her lifetime chance of dying from this deadly disease is about 1 in 108.

1 in 7 women lose their lives to the disease just 2 months after they are found to have it.

“Ovarian cancer represents three per cent cancer cases in women," said Dr Dhivya, consultant – obstetrician and gynaecologist, Kauvery Hospitals Electronic City (Bengaluru).

Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynaecological malignancy. The incidence is high in the Western world.


Epithelial tumors
Stromal tumors
Germ cell tumors

Epithelial ovarian cancer (EOC) is the most common and lethal ovarian cancer.

— Francis Rodier, a researcher at the Universite de Montreal.
Wikimedia Commons
Wikimedia Commons | Source


Women with close relatives who have had ovarian or breast cancer have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, compared with other women.

Women who have inherited genetic disorders like Lynch syndrome and Peutz-Jeghers syndrome have a higher risk of developing this relatively rare cancer.

Smoking can increase the risk of certain types of ovarian cancer such as mucinous ovarian cancer.

Women who are over 50 are more likely to develop ovarian cancer than younger women.

Obese women have a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer than other women. And the death rates for ovarian cancer are higher for obese women too, compared with non-obese women. The heaviest women appear to have the greatest risk.



Ovarian cancer is often referred to as ‘the silent killer’ because the symptoms are so vague that women are not diagnosed until the disease has progressed to late stages.

Feeling bloated, swollen tummy, discomfort in the stomach, uneasiness in the pelvic area, feeling full quickly while having meals, loss of appetite and needing to empty the bladder more often or more urgently than normal are main symptoms of ovarian cancer.

“I was inexplicably nauseous a lot of the time and so fatigued. I dismissed most of it as stress-related. Even when my stomach became incredibly bloated, I just thought I was getting fat. I exercised relentlessly for quite a while and I was so frustrated my stomach was getting larger,” said Emma Fitzgerald, from Melbourne, who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 26 in July 2020.

More than three-fourths are diagnosed when the cancer has advanced, and survival rates are low: Just 47 percent of patients survive five or more years.


Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect and diagnose.

Although ultrasounds can detect tumors and masses, they cannot always identify ovarian cancer. But they can still be a useful diagnostic tool.

In the year 2022, scientists invented falloposcope, which helps to detect early-stage ovarian cancer.


Ovarian cancer currently has a very poor rate of successful treatment. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.

Surgery is usually the first step. It is performed to remove a piece of the tumor to see if it is cancer. This procedure is known as biopsy.

Surgery helps "stage" the cancer to see how far it has spread. Once the disease is confirmed, the surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible.

"We need to develop more accurate pre-surgery diagnostics.

To detect one cancer, we operate on up to five women – yet this is currently the best option when abnormalities are detected by ultrasound and cancer is suspected.

There is a great need for a simple blood test that could identify women who do not need surgery," said Prof Karin Sundfeldt, University of Gothenburg.

Pafolacianine (Cytalux) is used to help identify ovarian cancer lesions during surgical procedures.

This drug is said to work because it “lights up” cancer cells and allows clinicians to better identify these cells during surgery.

Chemotherapy is the treatment of cancer using chemicals designed to destroy cancer cells or stop them from growing.

Use of bevacizumab as a first-line therapy for ovarian cancer has doubled from 4.1 percent in 2008 to 8.2 percent in 2014, according to preliminary, non–peer-reviewed findings.

Tamoxifen is a selective estrogen receptor modulator that doctors prescribe for ovarian cancer treatment.

"I’m calm and confident everything is going to be okay. I know the road will be tough but will also have a happy ending" said Sara Carbonero, Spanish sports journalist and ovarian cancer patient.

In October 2021, research scientists at Seoul National University Bundang Hospital confirmed that Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase inhibitors can increase progression-free survival for ovarian cancer, which has a high recurrence rate.

Targeting GTs-related gene can act as a therapeutic alternative for ovarian cancer.

Taxane maintenance therapy with paclitaxel or paclitaxel poliglumex improves progression-free survival in ovarian cancer, according to a phase 3 trial published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Detecting and treating ovarian cancer at an early stage saves lives and lowers healthcare costs compared with treatment of cancer at a more advanced, incurable stage.

— Anna Jo Smith, MD, MPH, Johns Hopkins Department of Gynecology and Obstetrics.


Do not use tobacco products. Adhere to a healthy, balanced diet. Do yoga daily. Manage stress; Heartfulness helps you in this. Avoid exposure to asbestos.

Frequent aspirin use is associated with lower ovarian cancer risk regardless of the presence of most other ovarian cancer risk factors, according to a meta-analysis published online in July 2022 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

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So how did ovarian cancer change me? If anything, going through ovarian cancer helped me to become more social and to listen to my body. I don’t try to push myself like used to-I know my limits and make sure to take the time to relax, get enough sleep, and exercise regularly.

— Lindsay T, ovarian cancer survivor.

Ovarian Cancer and Blood Cells

A research study found that tumours break the blood vessel barriers so that they can communicate with the blood cells, such as platelets.

When these tumours come into contact with platelets, they can then metastasize, or begin to spread to other sites in the body.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2019 Srikanth R


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