Ovarian Cancer – Most Common Cancer in Women


Cancer begins when cells begin to develop out of control in the body. Cells can become cancer in almost every part of the body and can spread.

It has traditionally been thought that ovarian cancers originate only in the ovaries, but recent research indicates that many ovarian cancers may actually begin in the cells at the far (distal) end of the fallopian tubes.

Some Key figures

The following observations have been found in recent research:

  • A new diagnosis of ovarian cancer will be obtained by about 21,750 people.
  • There will be about 13,940 women dying from ovarian cancer.
  • As far as cancer deaths among women are concerned, ovarian cancer ranks fifth, which is way above any other female reproductive system cancer.
  • The chance of a woman developing ovarian cancer is around 1 in 78 over her lifetime.
  • Her risk of dying from ovarian cancer in her lifetime is around 1 in 108. (Low malignant potential ovarian tumors are not included in these statistics.)

In older women, this cancer usually tends to grow more. About half the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years of age or older. But the positive news is that, over the past 20 years, the rate at which women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer has been steadily decreasing.

Overview of ovary tumor

Ovaries are mostly made up of 3 cell types. Each cell type may grow into a different tumor type:

  • Cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary are the starting point for epithelial tumors. Epithelial cell tumors are the bulk of ovarian tumors.
  • Germ cell tumors start from the eggs (ova) producing cells.
  • Stromal tumors evolve from structural tissue cells. Some of these are benign (non-cancerous) tumors that never spread outwards of the ovary.
  • Ovarian tumors that are malignant (cancerous) or borderline (low malignant potential) can spread (metastasize) to other body parts and can be fatal.

Ovarian epithelial tumors 

Tumors of the epithelial ovaries begin on the outer surface of the ovaries. Benign (not cancer), borderline (low malignant potential), or malignant (cancer) maybe these tumors.

Ovarian benign epithelial tumors

Benign epithelial ovarian tumors do not spread and typically do not lead to severe illness. There are many types of benign epithelial tumors, such as serous cystadenomas, Brenner tumors, and mucinous cystadenomas.

Borderline Epithelial Tumors 

Some ovarian epithelial tumors do not explicitly appear to be cancerous when looked at in the laboratory and are known as borderline ovarian epithelial cancer. The two most prevalent types are as follows:

  • Atypical proliferative serous carcinoma and
  • Atypical proliferative mucinous carcinoma

These tumors have historically been labeled tumors with low malignant potential (LMP).

They are distinct from traditional ovarian cancers because the ovary’s supporting tissue (called the ovarian stroma) does not develop into them. For example, if they spread into the abdominal cavity (belly) outside the ovary, they could develop on the lining of the abdomen, but not into it.

Borderline tumors are more likely than traditional ovarian cancers to affect younger people. These tumors are slow to develop and are less life-threatening than most cancers of the ovary.

Epithelial malignant ovarian tumors

Carcinomas are named cancerous epithelial tumors. Epithelial ovarian carcinomas are from 85 percent to 90 percent of malignant ovarian cancers. These tumor cells have many characteristics that can be used to distinguish epithelial ovarian carcinomas into various forms (when looked at in the laboratory). The serous type is the most prevalent by far and may include tumors of high and low grade. Mucinous, endometrioid, and transparent cells are the other predominant forms.

  • Serous carcinomas (52%)
  • Clear cell carcinoma (6%)
  • Mucinous carcinoma (6%)
  • Endometrioid carcinoma (10%)

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