Cancer of the Ovaries
The ovaries are two glands in the female reproductive tract that produce female hormones and form eggs. Most ovarian cancers begin in two types of cells in the ovaries:
- Ovarian epithelial carcinomas: begin in the cells on the surface of the ovary
- Malignant germ cell tumors: begin in the cells that form the eggs
Ovarian cancer most frequently affects older women. Chances increase significantly at the time of menopause. Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
- Family history of cancer
- Personal history of cancer
- Over the age of 55
- Never having been pregnant
- Menopausal hormone therapy
Cancer of the ovaries has been called the "silent" killer because it was thought that symptoms did not develop until the later stages of the disease.
However, clinical studies have shown that there are clear early warning signs such as:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Women who have these symptoms on a daily basis for two weeks or more should see their doctor or gynecologist. Catching cancer early can improve treatment results.
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