Cancer begins in cells, the
building blocks that make up tissues. Tissues
make up the organs of the body.
Normally, cells grow and divide to form new
cells as the body needs them. When cells grow
old, they die, and new cells take their place.
Sometimes, this orderly process goes wrong.
New cells form when the body does not need them,
and old cells do not die when they should. These
extra cells can form a mass of tissue called
a growth or tumor.
Tumors can be benign or malignant:
Benign tumors are not cancer:
* Benign tumors are rarely life-threatening.
* Generally, benign tumors can be removed. They
usually do not grow back.
* Benign tumors do not invade the tissues around
* Cells from benign tumors do not spread to
other parts of the body.
Malignant tumors are cancer:
* Malignant tumors are generally more serious
than benign tumors. They may be life-threatening.
* Malignant tumors often can be removed. But
sometimes they grow back.
* Malignant tumors can invade and damage nearby
tissues and organs.
* Cells from malignant tumors can spread to
other parts of the body. Cancer cells spread
by breaking away from the original (primary)
tumor and entering the lymphatic system or bloodstream.
The cells invade other organs and form new tumors
that damage these organs. The spread of cancer
is called metastasis.
Benign and malignant cysts
An ovarian cyst may be found on the surface
of an ovary or inside it. A cyst contains fluid.
Sometimes it contains solid tissue too. Most
ovarian cysts are benign (not cancer).
Most ovarian cysts go away with time. Sometimes,
a doctor will find a cyst that does not go away
or that gets larger. The doctor may order tests
to make sure that the cyst is not cancer.
Ovarian cancer can invade, shed, or spread
to other organs:
* Invade: A malignant ovarian
tumor can grow and invade organs next to the
ovaries, such as the fallopian tubes and uterus.
* Shed: Cancer cells can shed
(break off) from the main ovarian tumor. Shedding
into the abdomen may lead to new tumors forming
on the surface of nearby organs and tissues.
The doctor may call these seeds or implants.
* Spread: Cancer cells can
spread through the lymphatic system to lymph
nodes in the pelvis, abdomen, and chest. Cancer
cells may also spread through the bloodstream
to organs such as the liver and lungs.