CAUSES – Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries. The ovaries are the female reproductive organs that produce eggs. Doctors do not know exactly what causes ovarian cancer. There are some factors and conditions that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. A family history of breast or uterine cancer also confers an increased risk for the development of ovarian cancer. If a woman has ovarian cancer and her daughter develops ovarian cancer, the daughter will probably develop the cancer at a relatively young age. Women who have never given birth have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer than women who have had children. The number of childbirths correlates directly with a decrease in risk for developing ovarian cancer.
TREATMENT – Surgery is the usual first treatment for ovarian cancer. Surgery is used to treat all stages of ovarian cancer. Surgery performed by a specialist in female reproductive cancer has been shown to result in a higher success rate. For earlier stage of ovarian cancer, surgery may be the only treatment. Surgery involves:
- Removal of the uterus (total hysterectomy)
- Removal of both ovaries and fallopian tubes (bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy)
- Partial or complete removal of the omentum, the fatty layer that covers and pads organs in the abdomen
- Examination, biopsy, or removal of the lymph nodes and other tissues in the pelvis and abdomen
PREVENTION – It is best to discuss with your doctor about specific treatments if you are considered high risk for ovarian cancer.