Ovarian Cancer


A women's reproductive system has two ovaries, one on either side of the uterus. The ovaries, each about the size of an almond, produce eggs (ova) as well as the female sex hormones estrogen and progesterone. Eggs are fertilized by sperm from the male to produce offspring (children).
Ovarian cancer is a disease in which normal ovarian cells begin to grow in an uncontrolled, abnormal manner and produce tumors in one or both ovaries.
According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer ranks fifth in total cancer deaths among women. It is estimated that about 20,000 women in the United States will develop ovarian cancer every year. About 15,000 deaths from ovarian cancer will occur in American women during that same time frame.
Ovarian cancer can be benign (non-cancerous) or malignant (cancerous). There are several types of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer that begins on the surface of the ovary (epithelial carcinoma) is the most common type. Ovarian cancer that begins in the egg-producing cells (germ cell tumors) and cancer that begins in the supportive tissue surrounding the ovaries (stromal tumors) are rare.

Related Terms

Alpha fetoprotein (AFP), angiogenesis, ascites, Ashkenazi Jewish, bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy, cyst, cytoreduction, debulking, dyspareunia, endometrium, epithelial carcinoma, epithelium, germ cell tumors, gynecological, hormone replacement therapy (HRT), human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG), laproscopic, laparotomy, lymphadenectomy, omentectomy, oophorectomy, stromal tumors, tubal ligation, uterus.

stages of ovarian cancer

Stage I: Stage I ovarian cancer is confined to one or both ovaries and has not spread.
Stage II: Stage II ovarian cancer has spread beyond the ovaries but is confined to the pelvic area (bladder, uterus, or rectum).
Stage III: Stage III ovarian cancer has spread to the lining of the abdomen (peritoneum) or to the lymph nodes within the abdomen. This is the most common stage of disease identified at the time of diagnosis.
Stage IV: Stage IV ovarian cancer has spread to organs beyond the abdomen. Generally, the higher the stage, the more serious the cancer.