Ovary, cancer of

A malignant growth of the ovary. The cancer may be either primary (arising in the ovary) or secondary (due to the spread of cancer from another part of the body). Ovarian cancer can occur at any age but is most common after 50 and in women who have never had children. A family history of cancer of the ovary, breast, or colon, especially in close relatives under 50, is an important risk factor. Taking oral contraceptives reduces the risk. In most cases, ovarian cancer causes no symptoms until it is widespread. The first symptoms may include vague discomfort and swelling in the abdomen; nausea and vomiting; abnormal vaginal bleeding; and ascites. If ovarian cancer is suspected, a doctor will carry out a physical examination to detect any swellings in the pelvis. A laparoscopy will usually be performed to confirm the diagnosis. Treatment is by surgical removal of the growth or as much cancerous tissue as possible. This usually involves salpingooophorectomy and hysterectomy followed by radiotherapy and anticancer drugs.


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