What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is abnormal cell growth in the ovaries, located in the woman’s pelvis, where egg cells (ova) are produced.  Because of its central location in the pelvis, there can be a wide variety of causes and symptoms.  It can be diagnosed through pelvic exams, imaging scans, blood tests, and surgeries.


Types of Ovarian Cancer

  • Epithelial ovarian cancer – the most common type. It comes from the surface cells of the ovaries
  • Germ cell ovarian cancer – this type comes from sex cells produced by the ovaries (more common in women in their 20s and 30s)
  • Stromal cell ovarian cancer – this type comes from the connective tissue surrounding the ovaries
  • Small cell carcinoma (borderline) – this type is extremely rare and the origin of the cancer is unclear


Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

  • Older age (the risk increases as we age)
  • precocious puberty and early-onset menopause
  • Family history of ovarian, breast, colorectal cancers
  • Family Cancer Syndrome (mutated genes passed down generations)
  • Obesity and weight issues
  • Having Children at over 35 or having preterm babies (no experience with full-term delivery)
  • Ovarian Cysts
  • Pre-existing issues with the colon, intestines
  • Smoking
  • Hormonal therapies and fertility treatments
  • Birth control


Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

  • Bloating, feeling full quickly after eating
  • Constipation
  • Increased urinary urgency and frequency
  • Back pain
  • Painful sex
  • Irregular and/or painful menstrual cycles/spotting
  • Pelvic pain
  • Weight loss or gain


Treatments for Ovarian Cancer

  • Chemotherapy (localized and targeted or more generalized for more advanced stages)
  • Surgery
  • Clinical trials