Ovarian cancer is when abnormal cells within the ovary begin to multiply out of control and form a tumor. If left untreated, the tumor can spread to other parts of the body. This is called metastatic ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it’s spread within the pelvis and abdomen. At this late stage, ovarian cancer is harder to treat.

The ovaries are two female reproductive glands that produce ova, or eggs. They also produce the feminine hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Ovarian cancer often has warning signs, but the earliest symptoms are vague and straightforward to dismiss. Twenty percent of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage.

Symptoms

E 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 conditions.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:

  • pain or pressure in the pelvis
  • unexpected vaginal bleeding
  • pain in the back or abdomen
  • bloating
  • feeling full rapidly when eating
  • changes in urination patterns, such as more frequent urination
  • changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • fatigue
  • back pain
  • menstrual irregularities

These symptoms may occur for any number of reasons. They aren’t necessarily due to ovarian cancer. Many women have a number of these problems at just one occasion or another. These sorts of symptoms are often temporary and answer simple treatments in most cases.

Types of ovarian cancer

The ovaries are made up of three types of cells. Each cell can develop into a different type of tumor:

  • Epithelial tumors
  • Stromal tumors
  • Germ cell tumors

Most ovarian cysts aren’t cancerous. These are called benign cysts. However, a very small number can be cancerous. If the cyst doesn’t go away, your doctor may recommend surgery to remove it just in case. Your doctor can’t determine if it’s cancerous until they remove it surgically.