Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a disease where some of the cells in one or both ovaries start to grow abnormally and develop into cancer.
The term ovarian cancer is often shortened to 'OvCa' (pronounced 'of-car').
The ovaries are two small almond shaped organs that are part of the female reproductive system. Each ovary measures about 2-4 cm across and they sit on either side of the uterus (which is sometimes called the womb).
Each ovary contains germ cells that eventually develop into eggs (ova). The ovaries also produce the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which regulate your menstrual cycle and affect the development of female body characteristics.
Types of ovarian cancer
There are four main types of ovarian cancer, and these are named after the type of cells in the ovary where the cancer begins growing:
•Epithelial ovarian cancer begins in the epithelium: the outer cells that cover the ovary. This is the most common type of ovarian cancer, accounting for about 90% of cases.
•Borderline tumours are a group of epithelial tumours which are not as aggressive as other epithelial tumours. Borderline tumours may also be called 'low malignant potential' or LMP tumours. The outlook for women with borderline tumours is generally good regardless of whether the disease is diagnosed early or late.
•Germ cell ovarian cancer begins in the cells that mature into eggs. These tumours account for about 5% of ovarian cancers and usually affect women under 30 years.
•Sex-cord stromal cell ovarian cancer begins in the ovary cells that release female hormones. These tumours account for about 5% of ovarian cancers and can affect women of any age.
Both germ cell and sex-cord stromal cell ovarian cancers respond well to treatment and are often curable. If either of these cancers affect only one ovary, it may be possible for younger women to have children after treatment.
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month - February 2011
Each year in February Ovarian Cancer Australia runs a national Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month campaign to highlight the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to raise funds for our programs.
For more information, visit the Ovarian Cancer Australia Website