Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumor arising in the ovaries in nearby tissues in women. This group of cancers includes epithelial ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancers. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, accounting for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Ovarian cancer grows quickly and can progress from early stages to advanced within a year. The most common form of ovarian cancer is malignant epithelial carcinoma, the cancer cells can grow out of control quickly and spread in weeks or months.
Ovarian cysts, on the other hand, are closed, sac-like structures within the ovary that are filled with a liquid or semisolid substance. Just because you have had an ovarian cyst or tumor doesn’t mean you have, or will develop ovarian cancer.
The Difference of Ovarian Cysts VS Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cysts do not always produce symptoms and they go away on their own or through proper treatment. Cysts are first found through pelvic exams performed by a gynecologist or primary care physician. Here are some of the differences between ovarian cysts VS ovarian cancer.
- An ovarian cyst is a sac or pocket of healthy tissue or cells usually filled with fluid, whereas an ovarian tumor is a solid mass of cancer cells.
- Generally, ovarian cysts go away on their own during a menstrual cycle, whereas ovarian tumors will not go away on their own and will need to be treated.
- Cysts in the ovaries are usually harmless, do not cause symptoms, and are not predictive of future ovarian cancer risk, although complicated cysts may increase the likelihood.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose because symptoms often do not occur until late in the disease. The tumor does not show any symptoms until it has grown large enough to exert pressure on another organ in the abdomen, or until it has spread to distant organs. The only early symptom of the disease can be a menstrual irregularity. Symptoms include:
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Pain during intercourse
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Frequent urination
- Collection of fluid in the abdomen, contributing to abdominal distension and shortness of breath
- Loss of appetite
- Nausea and vomiting
- Diarrhea and gas
Ovarian Cysts Symptoms
Despite not causing symptoms, ovarian cysts can still be detected in routine physical examinations. Occasionally, they are found as a result of routine ultrasound. However, symptoms can be present, especially with large cysts or ruptured cysts. These includes:
- Pain with sexual intercourse and deep penetration
- Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
- A feeling of lower abdominal or pelvic pressure or fullness
- Chronic pelvic pain
- Low back pain throughout the menstrual cycle
- Pelvic pain following exercise
- Pain or pressure with urination
- Pain during bowel movement
- Nausea and vomiting
- Vaginal pain or spotty bleeding from the vagina
- Abdominal tenderness
- Abdominal distension
- A feeling of abdominal fullness
- Heartburn and indigestion
- Problems with the control of urination