Ovarian tumors – what are they?

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Ovarian tumors can be benign or malignant, and symptoms are similar for both. Treatment depends on the woman’s health, and early detection improves chances of successful treatment. Screening tests are available for those at high risk.

Ovarian tumors are growths that develop in or on a woman’s ovary. The ovaries are part of a woman’s reproductive system. Women have two ovaries, which are responsible for producing eggs and female hormones. The growths that form on them develop due to abnormal cells. They are solid, differentiating them from cysts, which are filled with fluid.

Ovarian cancers are a scary topic for women, but they are not always life threatening. Some tumors are benign, which means that the abnormal cells don’t spread to other parts of the body. A benign ovarian tumor can develop for many reasons, and scientists aren’t always sure what causes them. It is also possible that they develop before a woman is born.

Treatment for benign tumors depends on the woman’s health. Sometimes a doctor may choose to wait to treat them to see how they develop and whether or not they continue to grow. Sometimes, doctors recommend having ovarian tumors surgically removed. In some cases, it may also be necessary to remove the ovary along with the tumor. If the ovary is removed, it is usually closely examined for cancer cells.

Sometimes ovarian tumors are cancerous or malignant and have the potential to spread beyond the ovarian tissue. An estimated one-fifth of cancerous ovarian tumors are found while the cancer is still in its early stages. This is important, as getting cancer early improves a woman’s chances for successful treatment. These tumors can be found during a woman’s regular pelvic exam, when a doctor feels her organs to check their size and shape. However, it’s not always possible for a doctor to detect ovarian cancers this way, and the Pap smear cannot be used to detect early ovarian cancer.

The symptoms of benign and malignant ovarian tumors are similar. For example, a woman’s abdomen may swell or swell abnormally. You may feel pressure in your pelvis or pain in your stomach. You may feel full faster and need to urinate more often; sometimes, there is pain during intercourse or irregular vaginal bleeding. Unfortunately, these symptoms are quite vague and can be dismissed as other conditions.

There are some screening tests designed to detect early ovarian cancers. However, they are typically used in women who are at high risk for them. This includes those who have a family history of ovarian cancer. For these women, ultrasounds and blood tests can be used to detect cancer early, even if they have no symptoms.

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