Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs (ova) as well as the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. An ovarian tumor is a growth on an ovary. Unlike a fluid filled cyst, it is solid. Benign ovarian tumors are not cancerous. They do not invade tissues or spread to other parts of the body. If untreated, however, they may grow very large. Benign tumors may cause pain by pressing upon nearby structures and may disrupt normal hormone production. Ovarian cancer occurs when cells grow in an uncontrolled, abnormal manner and produce tumors in one or both ovaries. Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women. It's diagnosed in about 23,000 women in the United States each year, and almost 14,000 women die of the disease annually.
Causes of Ovarian Tumor
An ovarian tumor is a growth of abnormal cells. They can either be noncancerous (benign) or cancerous (malignant). Although benign tumors are made up of abnormal cells, these cells don't spread to other body tissues (metastasize). Malignant cells not only grow locally, spreading directly into adjacent tissues, but also may detach from the original tumor site and spread through your body by way of blood vessels or lymph nodes. Although the exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, three basic types of tumors exist and are designated by where they form in the ovary. Epithelia tumors account for about 90 percent of ovarian cancers. They develop from the the thin layer of tissue that covers the ovaries. This is the most common form of ovarian cancer and generally occurs in postmenopausal women.
Germ cell tumors occur in the egg-producing cells of the ovary. In general, they occur in younger women. The last group of tumors are designated Stromal tumors. These tumors develop in the estrogen- and progesterone-producing tissue that holds the ovary together.
Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Tumor
Both cancerous and non-cancerous tumors involving the ovary may remain silent, or asymptomatic, particularly early in the disease process. As a tumor grows in an ovary, irrespective of its malignant potential, it may exert pressure on your bowel, bladder and other organs in your abdominal cavity. These types of vague symptoms causing are easily confused with those of other conditions. Many symptoms can be indications of other less serious conditions, but if they persist they may indicate ovarian cancer. Frequent symptoms include: Abdominal swelling Abdominal pain Bloating Indigestion, gas or nausea A feeling of pressure in your pelvis Frequent urination Unexplained changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea) Unexplained weight loss or gain A feeling of fullness, even after a light meal Abnormal bleeding from your vagina Painful intercourse (dyspareunia)
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Medical Content Last Updated on 07/12/2008
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