The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They produce a woman's eggs and female hormones. Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. Cancer of the ovary is not common, but it causes more deaths than other female reproductive cancers. 

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected because women with ovarian cancer may have no symptoms or just mild symptoms until the disease is in an advanced stage. At the late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat. Gynaecologists in Chennai says the sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better your chance for recovery. 

Ovarian cancer stages
The stage of cancer refers to cancer's spread. 

Stage 1:
Cancer cells affect only the ovary or ovaries and have not spread to another area.

Stage 2:
Cancer has affected one or both ovaries and also other organs within the pelvis, such as the uterus, fallopian tubes, bladder, or rectum.

Stage 3:
Cancer affects one or both ovaries and either the lining of the abdomen or lymph nodes in the back of the abdomen.

Stage 4:
Cancer has spread to other parts of the body, outside the peritoneal cavity. This cavity includes the abdomen and the pelvis. Areas that may now be affected include the liver, spleen, and the fluid around the lungs.

Most ovarian cancers start in the epithelium, or outer lining, of the ovary. Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms and this is partly due to the fact that the ovaries are deep within the abdominal cavity. 

Advanced-stage ovarian cancer may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions.

Signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling

- Feeling full rapidly when eating

- Weight loss

- Pain in the pelvis, the lower abdomen, or the lower part of the body

- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation

- Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often

- Indigestion or heartburn

As cancer progresses, there may also be:

- Nausea

- Weight loss

- Breathlessness

- Tiredness

If symptoms are new and persist for more than two weeks, it is recommended that a woman see her doctor, and a gynecologic oncologist before surgery if cancer is suspected.

What causes ovarian cancer?

As per Gynaecologists in Porur, ovarian cancer happens when cells divide and multiply in an unregulated way. However, it's not clear what causes ovarian cancer, though doctors have identified factors that can increase the risk of the disease.

The following risk factors are linked to a higher chance of developing the disease:

- Family history
Women with close relatives who have had ovarian or breast cancer have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, compared with other women.

- Older age
Ovarian cancer can occur at any age but is most common in women ages 50 to 60 years.

- Hormone replacement therapy
HRT slightly increases a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer. The risk appears to increase the longer the HRT continues, and returns to normal as soon as treatment stops.

- Infertility or fertility treatment
Fertility drugs have been linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer, especially in women who used them for more than one year without becoming pregnant. Those who are infertile may also have a higher risk than those who are not, possible due to not carrying a pregnancy.

- Breast cancer
Women who have received a diagnosis of breast cancer have a higher chance of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer

- Obesity and overweight
Obesity and overweight appear to increase the risk of developing many cancers. Ovarian cancer is more common in women with a body mass index (BMI) of over 30.

Start by consulting a doctor online and making an appointment if you have any signs or symptoms that worry you. Successful treatment is possible, but it depends on the stage at which the cancer is diagnosed.