Dr. Ridhima Bindlish<br />

Dr. Niharika Garach

Surgical Oncologist

Blogs | 24-June-2023

How Ovarian Cancer Affects the Body: A Comprehensive Guide

How Does Ovarian Cancer Affect the Body?<br />

Ovarian cancer has become a leading cause of death among women, and yet it’s an issue that isn’t discussed very often. As someone who has been personally affected by this form of cancer, or if you are simply looking to gain knowledge about ovarian cancer.

understanding how the body is impacted can be beneficial in helping manage and treat symptoms. In this blog post, we’ll explore the effects of ovarian cancer on the body so that you can be more informed on your journey to better health.

What is Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries, the reproductive organs in women responsible for producing eggs and hormones. This cancer can occur at any age, but it is most common in women over 50 years old.

Ovarian cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages as its symptoms can be vague and may mimic other conditions.

This makes it a particularly deadly cancer that can rapidly spread to other body parts if left untreated.

There are several different types of ovarian cancer, classified based on the type of cells that the cancer originates from. The most common type is epithelial ovarian cancer, accounting for around 90% of all cases.

The remaining 10% of ovarian cancers are less common and can originate from other types of ovarian cells such as germ cells (germ cell tumors) or hormone-producing cells (stromal tumors).

Several risk factors have been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer. Some of the known risk factors include a family history of ovarian cancer.

carrying certain inherited gene mutations such as BRCA1 or BRCA2, having never given birth, or having started menstruating at an early age. Additionally, environmental factors such as exposure to asbestos and talc have been linked to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.

While the causes of ovarian cancer are not fully understood, both genetic and environmental factors are thought to play a role in its development. Specific gene mutations inherited from one or both parents can increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

In addition, exposure to certain toxins in the environment such as chemicals in pesticides may also increase the risk. However, in many cases, the cause of ovarian cancer is unknown.

Progression of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer can progress through different stages depending on the size and extent of the tumor and whether it has spread to other organs in the body. These stages are important in determining the appropriate treatment and management strategies.

Stage I: At this stage, ovarian cancer is confined to one or both ovaries. It may be further subdivided into IA, IB, and IC depending on the extent and location of the tumor.

The survival rate for women with stage I ovarian cancer is generally very high, with most women being cured of the disease.

Stage II: This stage is when the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries but is still confined to the pelvis. The tumor may involve nearby organs such as the uterus, bladder, or rectum.

Survival rates for women with stage II ovarian cancer are slightly lower than those with stage I disease.

Stage III: At this stage, ovarian cancer has spread beyond the pelvis and has invaded the nearby lymph nodes or other organs in the abdomen, such as the liver or spleen.

The tumor may also have spread to the peritoneal cavity, which is the lining around the abdominal organs.

This is the most common stage at which ovarian cancer is diagnosed. Survival rates for stage III ovarian cancer are lower than for earlier stages.

Stage IV: This is the most advanced stage of ovarian cancer, and it occurs when cancer has spread beyond the abdomen to distant organs such as the lungs or brain.

It may also involve the lymph nodes in the neck or groin. Survival rates for women with stage IV ovarian cancer are the lowest, with only about 17% of women surviving the past five years after diagnosis.

Symptoms and Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer

The symptoms and warning signs of ovarian cancer can vary, but there are a few common indicators to look for. These include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Pain or discomfort in the pelvis, lower abdomen, or back
  • Changes in bowel or bladder habits
  • Loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

Symptoms and their Relation to the Stage of the Disease

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can vary depending on the stage of the disease. In the early stages, there may be no noticeable symptoms, or they may be mild and easily dismissed as normal menstrual or gastrointestinal issues.

As the cancer progresses, symptoms become more pronounced and severe, making it more difficult to treat and manage the disease.

In the later stages, the tumors may grow large enough to cause pressure and discomfort in the abdomen or pelvis. As a result, women may experience fatigue, loss of appetite, and weight loss.

In some cases, ovarian cancer can cause abnormal bleeding or other gynecological issues, such as vaginal discharge.

Overall, recognizing the early symptoms and warning signs of ovarian cancer is critical to detection and treatment.

By staying informed and seeking medical attention for any concerning symptoms, women can take control of their reproductive health and reduce the impact of ovarian cancer on their lives.

If you have any signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer book an appointment

Treatment Options and Management of Ovarian Cancer

When it comes to treating ovarian cancer, there are several approaches that healthcare providers may take depending on the stage and severity of the disease. Common treatment options include surgery, chemotherapy, and targeted therapies.

Surgery is often the first line of treatment for ovarian cancer and involves the removal of the tumor, one or both ovaries and other tissues that may be affected by the cancer.

In some cases, the uterus and fallopian tubes may also be removed. 

Chemotherapy is another standard treatment option for ovarian cancer and involves the use of drugs to kill cancer cells. These drugs may be given intravenously or orally, and are often given in cycles to allow the body to recover between treatments.

Chemotherapy can cause side effects such as nausea, vomiting, hair loss, and fatigue, but these can often be managed with medication.

Targeted therapies are a newer class of drugs that are designed to specifically target cancer cells while leaving healthy cells intact. These drugs work by blocking the signals that cancer cells use to grow and divide.

Targeted therapies may be used alone or in combination with other treatments such as chemotherapy.

The importance of personalized treatment plans and ongoing monitoring cannot be overstated when it comes to managing ovarian cancer.

Each woman’s case is unique, and a tailored treatment plan that takes into account the individual’s age, overall health, and other factors is essential for the best possible outcome.

Regular monitoring through imaging tests and other diagnostic tools can help healthcare providers track the progress of the disease and adjust the treatment plan accordingly.


Ovarian cancer is a serious disease that can have a significant impact on the body. By understanding how this type of cancer affects the body, women can be more informed about their diagnosis and treatment options.

As with any medical condition, early detection and prompt treatment are key to managing ovarian cancer successfully and improving outcomes.

Working closely with the oncology team and staying informed can help women take control of their health and reduce the impact of ovarian cancer on their lives.

If you believe you may be at risk for ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor about next steps.

Knowing the symptoms and warning signs, discussing any family history or genetic factors that may impact your risk, and making lifestyle choices that support your health and well-being can all help reduce the impact of ovarian cancer.

Take charge of your reproductive health today to ensure a brighter future tomorrow!