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What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The female reproductive system contains two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) and the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more challenging to treat. Early-stage ovarian cancer, in which the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.

What are the types of ovarian cancer?

The type of cell where cancer begins determines the type of ovarian cancer you have. Ovarian cancer types include:

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms. Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions. Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

What causes ovarian cancer?

It's not clear what causes ovarian cancer, though doctors have identified factors that can increase the disease's risk. In general, cancer begins when a cell develops errors (mutations) in its DNA. The mutations tell the cell to grow and multiply quickly, creating a mass (tumor) of abnormal cells. The abnormal cells continue living when healthy cells would die. They can invade nearby tissues and break off from an initial tumor to spread elsewhere in the body (metastasize).

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

Tests and procedures used to diagnose ovarian cancer include:

How is ovarian cancer managed or treated?

Treatment of ovarian cancer usually involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Operations to remove ovarian cancer include:

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