Ovarian Cancer: Types, Symptoms & Treatment

Ovarian cancer diagnoses have been slowly declining for the past 20 years. A diagnosis of ovarian cancer means that malignant cells have developed in an ovary, the reproductive gland that makes eggs. While there are various types of ovarian cancer, the three primary types are grouped based on the cells where the cancer starts:

  • Epithelial carcinoma: begins on the outer surface of the ovary
  • Germ cell tumors: develops in the ovary’s egg-producing cells
  • Stromal tumors: occurs in the connective tissue cells that produce female hormones

At SSM Health we provide the necessary care before, during and after an ovarian cancer diagnosis.

Signs & Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

There are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer, making it difficult to detect. Like most cancers, symptoms don’t traditionally develop until advanced stages of the disease. The symptoms tend to be vague, but can include:

  • Discomfort or pain in the pelvis and abdomen
  • Persistent diarrhea, gas, indigestion or constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Pressure or swelling in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Feelings of fullness, even after eating lightly
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Painful intercourse
  • Tiredness and fatigue
  • Lower back pain

If any of these symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, call your primary care provider. They’ll sit with you, discuss your symptoms and schedule any necessary diagnostic testing.

Treating Ovarian Cancer

After performing the necessary diagnostic tests, you and your cancer care team will choose the best treatment, or combination of treatments for you. It’s typical that two or more different types of therapy options will be used. The main treatments used for ovarian cancer are:

At SSM Health, we believe it’s important for you to consider all available options without feeling rushed. If there’s something you don’t understand, our doctors are here to clarify. Whether you’re newly diagnosed, or searching for a second opinion, our doctors are ready to help. Contact an SSM Health cancer specialist today.

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