Ovarian Cancer

Called the “silent killer” because there are often no discernable sypmtoms, and by the time of diagnosis it may have reached a significant stage. However, some research, now, says there are symptoms – bloating, pelvic/abdominal pain, difficulty eating/feeling full, and bladder urgency/frequency. It is reported, these symptoms are more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer, than in women in the general population.

Cancer of the ovary is a disease in which some of the cells of the ovary undergo changes and develop into cancer. There are four different types of ovarian cancer, named after the part of the ovary that is affected. Ovarian Cancer may be shortened and referred to as “OvCa”(pronounced ‘of-car’).

Epithelial ovarian cancer:  is a cancer that arises in the epithelium – the outer cells covering the ovary. Nine out of ten ovarian cancers are epithelial.

Germ cell and sex-cord stromal cell ovarian cancer:  these two types of ovarian cancer are not very common. The germ cell cancer can occur in the cells as they mature into eggs, and usually affects younger women in their reproductive years. Sex-cord stromal cell cancers arise in the cells, which release the female hormones, and can occur at any age. Both these types of ovarian cancers usually respond very well to treatment, and are often curable. If the cancer only affects one ovary, the woman may still be able to have children after treatment.

Borderline tumours:  are a group of epithelial (outer cells covering ovary) tumours, which are not as aggressive as other forms of ovarian cancer. Sometimes the words ‘low malignant potential’ are used to describe borderline tumours. The outlook for women with borderline tumours is generally good, regardless of whether the disease is diagnosed early or late.

Some useful websites with more information and resources:

Ovarian Cancer Australia

OvCa Australia Limited

Ovarian Cancer Program (Australia)

The Jean Hailes Foundation (Australia)

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (USA) – symptoms

Treatments for Ovarian Cancer (Australia)

List of courageous women who have battled ovarian cancer