Stephen J. Schueler, M.D.

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Tumor of the Ovary Anatomy

To better understand ovarian cancer, it helps to understand the anatomy of the ovaries and female genital tract.

The female reproductive organs include the vagina, cervix, uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries.

Women have two ovaries: one on each side of the uterus. The normal ovary is approximately the size of an unshelled almond.

The ovaries produce female sex hormones: estrogen and progesterone. They also contain between 250, 000 and 500, 000 follicles, or eggs. A follicle is a tiny structure that eventually will burst and release an egg into the fallopian tube. This occurs each month in the middle of the normal menstrual cycle.

Anatomy examples:

  • The uterus, cervix, and vaginal canal
  • The bladder
  • The fallopian tubes:
    • These paired structures connect each ovary to the uterus
  • The ovaries:
    • One on each side of the uterus. A normal adult ovary is about the size of an unshelled almond
  • Female organs during a pelvic examination

Last Updated: Nov 1, 2008 References
Authors: Stephen J. Schueler, MD; John H. Beckett, MD; D. Scott Gettings, MD
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PubMed Tumor of the Ovary References
  1. Boente MP, Hamilton TC, Godwin AK, Buetow K, Kohler MF, Hogan WM, Berchuck A, Young RC. Early ovarian cancer: a review of its genetic and biologic factors, detection, and treatment. Curr Probl Cancer. 1996 Mar-Apr;20(2):83-137. [8731031]
  2. Johnston SR. Ovarian cancer: review of the National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) guidance recommendations. Cancer Invest. 2004;22(5):730-42. [15581055]
  3. Rosen B, Kwon J, Fung Kee Fung M, Gagliardi A, Chambers A; Cancer Care Ontario's Practice Guidelines Initiative Gynecology Cancer Disease Site Group. Systematic review of management options for women with a hereditary predisposition to ovarian cancer. Gynecol Oncol. 2004 May;93(2):280-6. [1509993]
  4. Wolf JK, Jenkins AD. Gene therapy for ovarian cancer (review). Int J Oncol. 2002 Sep;21(3):461-8. [12168087]
  5. Young M, Plosker GL. Paclitaxel: a pharmacoeconomic review of its use in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Pharmacoeconomics. 2001;19(12):1227-59. [11772158]
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