Skip directly to search Skip directly to A to Z list Skip directly to navigation Skip directly to page options Skip directly to site content

Ovarian Cancer

Diagram of the female genital tract depicting fallopian tubes, ovaries, uterus, cervix, vagina, and vulva.

Cancer is a disease in which abnormal cells in the body grow out of control. Cancer is always named for the part of the body where it starts, even if it spreads to other body parts later.

Ovarian cancer is a group of diseases that originates in the ovaries, or in the related areas of the fallopian tubes and the peritoneum. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs. Women have two fallopian tubes that are a pair of long, slender tubes on each side of the uterus. Eggs pass from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The peritoneum is the tissue lining that covers organs in the abdomen.

Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. But when ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment works best. Ovarian cancer often causes signs and symptoms, so it is important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional.

Some mutations (changes in genes) can raise your risk for ovarian cancer. Mutations in the breast cancer susceptibility genes 1 and 2 (BRCA1 and BRCA2), and those associated with Lynch syndrome, raise ovarian cancer risk. The Know:BRCA tool can help you understand your risk of having a BRCA gene mutation.

Next: Basic Information

Featured Resources

Ovarian Cancer fact sheetOur ovarian cancer fact sheet explains who gets ovarian cancer and lists symptoms and risk factors.

Ovarian Cancers: Evolving Paradigms in Research and CareThe Institute of Medicine issued Ovarian Cancers: Evolving Paradigms in Research and Care with support from CDC.

Bring Your Brave campaign's infographic: What Every Young Woman Needs to Know About Hereditary Breast and Ovarian CancerThis infographic explains what young women need to know about hereditary breast and ovarian cancer.

Photo of Terri and her husband Johnny Terri makes it her mission to help women who have or are at risk for ovarian cancer. Read her story.

Photo of Tiffany P.“Listen to your body; don’t assume that it’s just nothing,” says ovarian cancer survivor Tiffany.

Photo of Jenny AllenUterine and ovarian cancer survivor Jenny Allen shares her story in this candid video.