Ask the Doctor
April 16, 2013

Why are the ovaries susceptible to cancer?

Dear Doc,

What are the ovaries? What makes them susceptible to cancer development?


Dear Keisha,

The ovaries are a pair of organs in the abdomen of the female that are responsible for the production of eggs; when fertilized by a sperm the egg develops into a baby.{{more}}

The ovaries are also responsible for the production of hormones that are responsible for the feminine characteristics of females. These hormones control menstruation (periods), breast development, feminine voice and help maintain the early stages of pregnancy, among other functions. One ovary can perform all the functions necessary if the other was not present or did not function. When a woman ages and the function of the ovaries stops, it is called menopause.

Any tissue of the body that has to go about repeated changes is susceptible to developing into a cancer. The reason for that is because millions of new cells have to be made on a continual basis, the chances of one developing into a cancer increases. A cancer needs only one cell to start growth and though the body has mechanisms to stop those “bad” cells, at times, some escape and a cancer is formed.

The ovaries go through a cycle monthly and it can be followed by virtue of following a female’s menstruation (periods). It therefore means that every month a new cycle of cells is made as an egg is released from the ovaries.

The ovary is an interesting organ in that, unlike other tissues, it can produce tumours that are filled with hair, teeth or indeed any possible material. Not all tumours that develop from the ovaries are cancers.¤


SVG Cancer Society,

P.O. Box 709, Kingstown.