Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is abnormal cell growth in, near or on the ovaries.



  • Epithelial tumors – begin in the tissue covering the outside of the ovaries. These account for almost all ovarian cancers
  • Stromal tumors – begin in the ovarian tissue that contains hormone-producing cells
  • Germ cell tumors – begin in the egg-producing cells

Causes or Risk Factors

  • Age – most common in women ages 50 to 60
  • Inherited gene mutation – breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). Gene mutations that cause Lynch syndrome, associated with colon cancer, also increase risk
  • Estrogen hormone replacement therapy
  • Starting menstruation early (before age 12) and/or beginning menopause later (after age 52) increases risk
  • Never being pregnant
  • Fertility treatment
  • Smoking
  • Intrauterine devices
  • Polycystic ovarian disease


  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Pelvic discomfort
  • Bowel habit changes such as constipation
  • Frequent need to urinate
  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Persistent fatigue
  • Pain during sex
  • Menstrual changes


  • Pelvic examination
  • Imaging
    • Ultrasound
    • Computed tomography (CT scan)
  • Blood test
  • Surgery – to remove tissue or fluid


  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
    • Hyperthermic (heated) intraoperative peritoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) – used to treat cancers that spread to the abdominal cavity lining, such as those of the appendix, colon, stomach and ovaries. HIPEC directly delivers chemotherapy into the abdomen immediately after surgery while in the operating room
  • Radiation therapy

Clinical Trials

Patients have the unique opportunity to participate in clinical trials that involve medications as well as gene and cell therapy often unavailable outside of research settings. Learn more >

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