Metastatic ovarian and omental cancer

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The omentum is a large fatty structure that hangs down from the middle of the colon and covers the intestines within the abdomen. Sometimes ovarian cancer spreads to the omentum.

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Anatomy and structure

The omentum is a two-layered, parachute-shaped structure that covers and surrounds the abdominal organs. In consistency, it is somewhere between a bulky canvas and jelly. The epiploon consists of two parts, most of which coalesce in adults.

  • A large omentum hangs from the stomach.
  • The lesser omentum hangs from the liver.

Purpose and functions

It is not clear why the omentum was designed as part of the human body, but it reaches all the organs of the abdominal cavity. Thus, it can act as a bandage in case of severe infection or intestinal rupture, as it covers and adheres to areas of inflammation .

Some other possible features include:

  • Maintaining the position of the abdominal organs, including keeping the intestines and stomach close to the liver.
  • Acts as a store of fat (see Abdominal obesity below)

Role of the omentum in ovarian cancer metastases

The omentum is important in ovarian cancer because it contains many tiny blood vessels. Cancer cells that have shed the ovary love to implant and grow there, this is known as omentum metastasis. The omentum is also rich in lymphatic or immune areas known as milk spots .

The omentum becomes very important in advanced ovarian cancer when tumor removal or debulking surgeries are performed. These surgeries are done to remove as many cancerous tumors as possible so that there is less cancer that needs to be treated with chemotherapy. When most of the cancer is removed surgically, there is a good chance that chemotherapy will help kill the remaining cancer cells before they become resistant to chemotherapy drugs .

Understanding the structure of the omentum makes it easier to understand why surgery to remove edema in ovarian cancer is so difficult. This is a tedious and time-consuming operation that requires great precision, as small clusters of cancer cells can spread throughout the blood vessel-rich omentum.

Also, the operation can take many hours to achieve optimal debulking. Another problem is that the time of surgery can be limited due to the inability of the patient to withstand a prolonged surgery under general anesthesia.

Discussion guide with an ovarian cancer physician

Get our printable guide to your next doctor's appointment to help you ask the right questions.

Other conditions related to the oil seal

Several other conditions are related to the structure and function of the oil seal:

  • Abdominal obesity: the omentum serves as a store of fat. When excess fat accumulation occurs in the omentum, people develop an apple-shaped body shape known as abdominal obesity , which many call abdominal fat. Abdominal fat is one of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome . People with this syndrome are at a higher risk of developing heart disease.
  • Adhesions: Adhesions in the abdomen or scar tissue that forms throughout the omentum in response to abdominal surgery, infections, or inflammation of the omentum can be very serious. In fact, it is a common cause of emergency abdominal surgery for intestinal obstruction and can also be a cause of infertility and chronic pain.
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