(HealthDay News) — Ovarian cancer isn’t a single disease, but rather a number of different malignancies involving the ovaries, an expert U.S. panel says.

Evidence suggests that many ovarian cancers begin in other tissues, such as the fallopian tubes, and eventually spread to the ovaries. In other cases, cancers arise from cells not considered to be part of the ovaries, according to a report from the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The report was mandated by Congress.

The findings in the report also indicate that the quality of care for ovarian cancer patients varied widely across the nation. Several groups have developed standard-of-care guidelines, but less than half of ovarian cancer patients receive that recommended care. The panel identified two main predictors of a better outcome for women with ovarian cancer: being treated by a gynecologic oncologist and receiving treatment at a hospital that handles a large number of such cases. In addition, better methods of identifying women at high risk for ovarian cancer could improve prevention and early detection.

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“While progress has been made in ovarian cancer research over the past few decades, much remains to be learned,” Jerome Strauss III, M.D., Ph.D., chair of the report committee, said in an academy news release. Strauss is also executive vice president for medical affairs and dean of the Virginia Commonwealth University School of Medicine in Richmond. “The more that is understood about the basic biology of various types of ovarian cancers, such as where they originate in the body, the more rapidly we can move toward advances in prevention, screening, early detection, diagnosis, treatment, and supportive care.”

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