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Peritoneal Cancer

Ovarian, Fallopian Tube and Peritoneal Cancer

Overview

The ovaries and fallopian tubes are part of the female reproductive system. There is one ovary and one fallopian tube on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). The ovaries store eggs and make female hormones. Eggs pass from the ovaries, through the fallopian tubes, to the uterus. The peritoneum is the tissue that lines the abdomen wall and covers organs in the abdomen. Part of the peritoneum is close to the ovaries and fallopian tubes.

The most common type of ovarian cancer is called ovarian epithelial cancer. It begins in the tissue that covers the ovaries. Cancer sometimes begins at the end of the fallopian tube near the ovary and spreads to the ovary. Cancer can also begin in the peritoneum and spread to the ovary. The stages and treatment are the same for ovarian epithelial, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancers.

Another type of ovarian cancer is ovarian germ cell tumor, which is much less common. It begins in the germ (egg) cells in the ovary. Ovarian low malignant potential tumor (OLMPT) is a type of ovarian disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissue that covers the ovaries. OLMPT rarely becomes cancer.

Cancers of the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and primary peritoneum are the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women in the U.S. These cancers are often found at advanced stages. This is partly because they may not cause early signs or symptoms and there are no good screening tests for them.

Key Points

  • Ovarian epithelial cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and primary peritoneal cancer are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissue covering the ovary or lining the fallopian tube or peritoneum.
  • Ovarian epithelial cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and primary peritoneal cancer form in the same type of tissue and are treated the same way.
  • Women who have a family history of ovarian cancer are at an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Some ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancers are caused by inherited gene mutations (changes).
  • Women with an increased risk of ovarian cancer may consider surgery to lessen the risk.
  • Signs and symptoms of ovarian, fallopian tube, or peritoneal cancer include pain or swelling in the abdomen.
  • Tests that examine the ovaries and pelvic area are used to detect (find) and diagnose ovarian, fallopian tube, and peritoneal cancer.
  • Certain factors affect treatment options and prognosis (chance of recovery).

Ovarian epithelial cancer, fallopian tube cancer, and primary peritoneal cancer are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissue covering the ovary or lining the fallopian tube or peritoneum.

The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries make eggs and female hormones (chemicals that control the way certain cells or organs work).

The fallopian tubes are a pair of long, slender tubes, one on each side of the uterus. Eggs pass from the ovaries, through the fallopian tubes, to the uterus. Cancer sometimes begins at the end of the fallopian tube near the ovary and spreads to the ovary.

The peritoneum is the tissue that lines the abdominal wall and covers organs in the abdomen. Primary peritoneal cancer is cancer that forms in the peritoneum and has not spread there from another part of the body. Cancer sometimes begins in the peritoneum and spreads to the ovary.