NCCN Guidelines for Patients® | Ovarian Cancer - page 6

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Part 1: About ovarian cancer
NCCN Guidelines for Patients
®
: Ovarian cancer
Version 1.2013
What are the ovaries?
The ovaries are part of the reproductive system in
women. The reproductive system is a group of organs in
the body that help make babies. The ovaries are located
in the pelvis between the hip bones, with one ovary on
the left side of the uterus and one on the right side. As
shown in Figure 1, each ovary is connected to the uterus
by a Fallopian tube. Without at least one ovary and a
uterus, a woman will not have a menstrual cycle and
cannot become pregnant.
What causes ovarian cancer?
Cells are the building blocks that form tissue in the body.
Cells grow and divide to form new cells. But, normal cells
know when to stop growing and cancer cells do not. As
shown in Figure 2, cancer cells can keep growing out of
control to form a mass of cells called a primary tumor.
Cancer cells keep growing when they shouldn’t because
of changes (mutations) in genes. Genes are instructions
in cells for controlling how cells behave. Although rare,
ovarian cancer can be caused by mutations in genes
that are passed down from a parent to a child.
Figure 1. Female reproductive organs
Illustration Copyright © 2013 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
Figure 2. Normal versus cancer cell growth
Illustration Copyright © 2013 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.
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