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Ovarian Cancer Health Center

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Ovarian Cancer Prevention (PDQ®): Prevention - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the ovaries.

The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus (the hollow, pear-shaped organ where a fetus grows). Each ovary is about the size and shape of an almond. The ovaries make eggs and female hormones (chemicals that control the way certain cells or organs work in the body).
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Anatomy of the female reproductive system. The organs in the female reproductive system include the uterus, ovaries, fallopian tubes, cervix, and vagina. The uterus has a muscular outer layer called the myometrium and an inner lining called the endometrium.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from cancer of the female reproductive system.

Since 1992, the number of new cases of ovarian cancer has stayed about the same. The number of deaths from ovarian cancer has slightly decreased since 2002.

It is hard to find ovarian cancer early. Early ovarian cancer may not cause any symptoms. When symptoms do appear, ovarian cancer is often advanced.

See the following PDQ summaries for more information about ovarian cancer:

  • Ovarian Cancer Screening
  • Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Treatment
  • Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors Treatment
  • Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment
  • Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer
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WebMD Public Information from the National Cancer Institute

Last Updated: February 25, 2014
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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