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The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one each side of the uterus. Each of these female reproductive organs is the size and shape of an almond. During each monthly menstrual cycle, one ovary releases an egg. The egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus. Most ovarian cancers are epithelial, originating in the lining tissues of the ovary. Rarer forms of ovarian cancer occur in the stroma, the connective tissue that supports the ovary, and in the germ cells, those that form the egg. The cause of ovarian cancer is unknown. Among women in the U.S., cancer of the ovary is the fourth most common cancer and the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer. The incidence of ovarian cancer increases steadily with age, with most cases found in women 55 to 75 years of age. It occurs with equal frequency in each of the two ovaries. Early detection of ovarian cancer is difficult because cancer that is limited to the ovary usually does not cause symptoms. An ovarian tumor can grow for som...
Alternative Names Physiologic ovarian cysts; Functional ovarian cysts; Corpus luteum cysts; Follicular cysts Prevention If you are not trying to get pregnant and you often get functional cysts, you can prevent them by taking hormone medications (such as birth control pills), which prevent follicles from growing. References Katz VL. Benign gynecologic lesions: Vulva, vagina, cervix, uterus, oviduct, ovary. In: Katz VL, Lentz GM, Lobo RA, Gershenson DM, eds. Comprehensive Gynecology . 5th ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Mosby Elsevier; 2007:chap 18.
I distinctly recall the advice, twenty-five years ago, of my own OBGYN when searching for a pediatrician as a first-time mother: find someone who listens to your child's symptoms and who can diagnose a problem quickly and accurately from your input. There's nowhere this recommendation is more relevant than in the case of women's health and ovarian cancer. Clearly, one of the most valuable functions a trained health professional performs is that of diagnostician. Because there is no single, accurate test for ovarian cancer, the most effective way women can protect themselves from the mortality risks of the disease is to know the risk factors, signs and symptoms.
Don't be lulled into thinking, as many women do, that there are no symptoms to identify. According to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund , the most common symptoms are:
A sense of bloating, with vague but persistent and un...
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