Ovarian Cancer Screening (PDQ®): Screening - Patient Information [NCI] - General Information About Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer is a disease in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the tissues of the ovaries.
The ovaries are a pair of organs in the female reproductive system. They are located 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 produce eggs and female hormones (chemicals that control the way certain cells or organs function).
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.
See the following PDQ summaries for more information about ovarian cancer:
- Ovarian Cancer Prevention
- Genetics of Breast and Ovarian Cancer
- Ovarian Epithelial Cancer Treatment
- Ovarian Germ Cell Tumors Treatment
- Ovarian Low Malignant Potential Tumors Treatment
In the United States, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women.
Ovarian cancer is also the leading cause of death from cancer of the female reproductive system. Since 1992, the number of new cases of ovarian cancer has gone down slightly. The number of deaths from ovarian cancer has slightly decreased since 2002.
Different factors increase or decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
Anything that increases your chance of getting a disease is called a risk factor. Anything that decreases your chance of getting a disease is called a protective factor
For information about risk factors and protective factors for ovarian cancer, see the Ovarian Cancer Prevention summary.