Ovarian cancer affects the tissues of the ovary, the reproductive gland in which the ova, or eggs, are formed. Most ovarian cancers either begin in the cells on the surface of the ovary or in the egg cells.
Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, after breast, lung and bowel cancers. Each year some 7,000 women are diagnosed with the disease in the UK. 
 Why should I be aware of this?
- Ovarian cancer occurs in one out of 69 women.
- Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose because symptoms are sometimes subtle and easily confused.
- Awareness can save lives.
- If found in the early stages, 95% of women will can survive for more than five years. Unfortunately most women are not diagnosed with ovarian cancer, until it has already spread, making successful treatment difficult, and survival rates much lower.
- The chance for a five-year survival if diagnosed in advanced stages, is only 30 percent.
- 90% of ovarian cancers are not 'familial'. This means that most women will not have any family history of this cancer, so they may not be aware of symptoms and risk factors.
 All about ovarian cancer
Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. Ovarian cancer is a disease in which normal ovarian cells begin to grow in an uncontrolled, abnormal manner and produce tumors in one or both ovaries.
According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women.
A person's chances of surviving ovarian cancer are better if the cancer is found early. But because the disease is difficult to detect in its early stage, only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found before tumor growth has spread into adjacent tissues and organs beyond the ovaries. Most of the time, the disease has already advanced before it's diagnosed.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are nonspecific and resemble those exhibited in digestive and bladder disorders. It is not unusual for a woman with ovarian cancer to be diagnosed with another condition before finally learning she has cancer. The key seems to be persistent or worsening signs and symptoms.
Physical symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Abdominal discomfort or pelvic pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Frequent urination
- Nausea, indigestion, loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Change in bowel habits
- Pain during intercourse
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding (rare)
Three basic types of ovarian tumors exist, designated by where they form in the ovary. They include:
- Epithelial tumors -- About 85 percent to 90 percent of ovarian cancers develop in the epithelium, the thin layer of tissue that covers the ovaries. This form of ovarian cancer generally occurs in postmenopausal women.
- Germ cell tumors. These tumors occur in the egg-producing cells of the ovary and generally occur in younger women.
- Stromal tumors. These tumors develop in the estrogen- and progesterone-producing tissue that holds the ovary together.
 Risk factors
- Inherited gene mutations -- The most significant risk factor for ovarian cancer is having an inherited mutation in one of two genes called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2).
- Family history -- Having a family history of ovarian cancer increases the risk of the disease.
- Age -- Ovarian cancer most often develops after menopause.
- Childbearing status -- Women who have had at least one pregnancy appear to have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.
- Infertility -- If you've had trouble conceiving, you may be at increased risk.
- Ovarian cysts -- Cyst formation is a normal part of ovulation in premenopausal women. However, cysts that form after menopause have a greater chance of being cancerous.
- Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) -- Women who have not had a hysterectomy and who used menopausal hormone therapy for five or more years face a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Obesity in early adulthood -- Studies have suggested that women who are obese at age 18 are at increased risk of developing ovarian cancer before menopause.
 What can I do?
Please be alert. If you develop some of the above mentioned symptoms, visit your doctor. You also need to be concerned if you devlop some of these symptoms suddenly.
- If you experience symptoms very frequently (in particular any of the first 6 symptoms more than 12 times a month)
- If you are being treated unsuccessfully for conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, urine infections, and others.
- If you have a family history (2 or more close relatives) of ovarian cancer , breast cancer or prostate cancer.
Then, it is important to let your doctor know, discuss your history, and if you are still not reassured, seek a second opinion.
- Recent studies have shown that dogs have successfully detected cancer through scent, however, it's not clear whether they're responding to the cancer itself or odors associated with cancer.
- Currently, less than 30 percent of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed in the early stages of the disease, when it is confined to the ovaries (stage I) or when the spread has been limited to the pelvis (stage II).
- Although the long-term prognosis is better for patients with early-stage disease (10-year survival rates range from 50-70 percent) than for patients with advanced disease (where the 10-year survival rate is only 15-25 percent), up to 50 percent of women with early-stage ovarian cancer will eventually relapse and succumb to ovarian cancer.
- Going for screening soon after the onset of symptoms linked to ovarian cancer -- abdominal or pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and abdominal bloating, when combined with the CA125 blood test may improve the early detection of ovarian cancer by 20 percent. 
 See also
- National Cancer Institute -Ovarian Cancer
- Ovarian Cancer Health Centre -- Diagnosis
- What every woman should know
- Ovarian Cancer : What all women should know
- ↑ What every woman should know
- ↑ Ovarian Cancer's Specific Scent Detected By Dogs; ScienceDaily June26, 2008
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 Important Indicators Of Early-stage Ovarian Cancer Highlighted -- ScienceDaily
- ↑ Symptom Screening Plus A Simple Blood Test Improves Early Detection Of Ovarian Cancer -- ScienceDaily