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Cartersville Medical Center
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Conditions InDepth: Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which cancer cells grow in the ovaries. The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female pelvis that produce eggs and female hormones.

Cancer occurs when cells in the body (in this case ovarian cells) divide without control or order. Normally, cells divide in a regulated manner. If cells keep dividing uncontrollably when new cells are not needed, a mass of tissue called a tumor forms. The term cancer refers to malignant tumors, which can invade nearby tissues and can spread to other parts of the body. A benign tumor does not spread.

There are several cancers and several more benign tumors that may occur in the ovaries. Most cancers are called epithelial cell tumors, which are the focus of this article. These tumors may grow to a considerable size before they cause severe symptoms. Malignant ovarian tumors may spread by shedding cells into the peritoneal cavity, which then causes metastasis throughout the abdomen—making these tumors difficult to treat. Early detection is very important to help prevent the cancer from spreading.

Cancerous Mass in the Left Ovary
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Revision Information

  • Kasper DL, Harrison TR. Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine. 14th ed. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill; 1998.

  • Ovarian cancer. American Cancer Society website. Available at: http://www.cancer.org/acs/groups/cid/documents/webcontent/003130-pdf.pdf. Accessed January 3, 2014.

  • Ovarian cancer. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 2013. Accessed January 3, 2014.

  • Ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer. National Cancer Institute website. Available at: http://www.cancer.gov/types/ovarian. Accessed January 3, 2014.

The health information in this Health Library is provided by a third party. Cartersville Medical Center does not in any way create the content of this information. It is provided solely for informational purposes. It does not constitute medical advice and is not intended to be a substitute for proper medical care provided by a physician. Always consult with your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Do not rely on information on this site as a tool for self-diagnosis. If you have a medical emergency, call 911.