There are many different types of ovarian cancer, corresponding
with the different types of cells in the ovary. The most common group
result from abnormal growth of the 'skin' of the ovary. Other types
grow from the tissue that surrounds the eggs in the ovary, and the egg
cells can also become cancerous.
Ovarian cysts and lumps can be benign, meaning that they are
not cancerous. Other types of cysts and lumps grow very slowly over
a long period of time. These are classified as borderline tumours of
low malignant potential. The exact diagnosis may not be known until
after the ovaries have been examined under the mrcroscope after surgery.
Cancer of the ovary can occur in one or both ovaries. It spreads
directly to other organs in the pelvis, such as the Fallopian tubes
and the uterus. The tumours also produce a fluid called ascites, and
cells in the ascites can spread the cancer to the lining of the abdomen
(the peritoneum), the bowel and other organs. An 'apron' of fat inside
the abdomen, called the omentum, is also often involved. The tumours
can block the bowel, causing vomiting and weight loss. It may also spread
to the chest, causing problems with breathing.