Women have two ovaries in their lower abdomen, one on
each side of the uterus. The ovaries are part of the
reproduction system. There are two jobs that ovaries do;
they produce hormones (estrogen and progesterone), and they
release eggs that travel down the fallopian tubes to the
Ovarian cysts can be found on the outer surface of an
ovary or inside it. An ovarian cyst contains fluid, and it
can also contain solid matter. It is very important to know
that most ovarian cysts are NOT cancer. They are benign
cysts that will go away all by themselves over time.
When a doctor finds a cyst on an ovary, he will not rush
the patient into an emergency surgery. MOST OVARIAN CYSTS
ARE BENIGN! He will watch the cyst over a period of time,
and if the cyst doesn't shrink and go away, or if the cyst
gets larger, the doctor will then order tests to determine
whether the cyst is in fact a problem.
Ovarian cancer cells can invade all parts of a woman's
reproductive system. It can invade the fallopian tubes and
the uterus as well as the ovaries. Ovarian cancer cells are
sometimes shed from the original tumor. They shed cells can
cause new tumors to form in the abdomen. Ovarian cancer
cells can also spread cancer through the lymphatic system
to lymph nodes in the pelvis, abdomen, and chest.
Family history seems to be the largest risk factor.
Women who have a mother, a daughter, or a sister who has
had ovarian cancer are at a much greater risk for
developing ovarian cancer than the rest of the population.
Women who have a family history of cancer of the breast,
uterus, colon, or rectum may also have an increased risk of
The best policy for women is to have regular physical
exams. If there is a family history of ovarian cancer,
breast cancer, or cancer of the uterus, colon, or rectum,
it is important to tell your doctor about your family