Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are two almond-shaped glands located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries produce the female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and release eggs during a woman’s reproductive years (the time from her first menstrual period through menopause).


The American Cancer Society estimates there were 21,990 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in the United States in 2011. Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in women, not including skin cancer.


There are more than 30 ovarian cancer types. They are grouped into three categories based on where they begin growing in the ovary:


Epithelial ovarian cancer originates in the layer of cells that cover the ovary and the entire abdominal cavity. This is the most common ovarian cancer type, accounting for roughly 90 percent of all cases.


Germ cell ovarian cancer begins in the egg-producing cells inside the ovaries. Teens and women in their 20s are more likely to have this type of ovarian cancer.


Sex cord-stromal ovarian cancer originates in the connective tissue of the ovaries, which also produces the female sex hormones.


All three ovarian cancer types may also spread to other areas of the body, referred to as metastatic ovarian cancer.