First, it is important to understand that a cell is the smallest unit of all living organisms. The set of cells forms the tissues and these in turn form the organs of the body. When cells in the body begin to grow abnormally and out of control, cancer occurs.
The term ovarian cancer is used to describe cancer that begins in the cells of the ovary, the fallopian tubes, and the peritoneum.
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Most cases of ovarian cancer occur sporadically in people with or without a family history of cancer, however, approximately 10-25% of people diagnosed with ovarian cancer can develop it from an inherited genetic mutation.
How is cancer “inherited”?
Cancer can be passed to a family member through DNA. DNA is the hereditary or genetic material that determines each human being and is found in almost all living beings. It is made up of genes that are responsible for coordinating the functions of each cell in the body, allowing the creation of vital substances and the formation of new cells for tissue regeneration.
There are many genes with different functions, among which are BRCA1 and BRCA2, genes that prevent the formation of tumors, helping to repair DNA damage. This allows to keep the body healthy.
When any of these genes are altered or mutated, they do not work properly. As a result, cells are more prone to disorders that can lead to cancer.
Signs and symptoms
Ovarian cancer was previously believed to be a silent disease that was only diagnosed in the more advanced stages (stages III and IV), however, common symptoms in women with this condition have been seen from earlier stages of the disease.
Some signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
Cáncer de ovario, de las trompas de Falopio y peritoneal: Introducción, Cancer.net. Disponible en: http://www.cancer.net/es/tipos-de-c%C3%A1ncer/c%C3%A1ncer-deovario-de-las-trompas-de-falopio-y-peritoneal/introducci%C3%B3n
Easton DF. How many more breast cancer predisposition genes are there? Breast Cancer Research 1999; 1(1):14–17.
Goff BA, Mandel LS, Drescher CW, Urban N, Gough S, Schurman KM, et al. Development of an ovarian cancer symptom index. Cancer. 2007;109(2):221-7.
Ovarian cancer. Genetic and Rare Diseases Information Center (GARD) – an NCATS Program. Disponible en: https://rarediseases.info.nih.gov/diseases/7295/ovarian-cancer