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Ovarian Cancer Basics

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer among women, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers, according to the American Cancer Society. This type of cancer is a challenge to detect because its early signs and symptoms are vague and similar to those of common digestive system disorders.

The ovaries are located in the pelvis, one on each side. They are part of the reproductive system, producing the eggs that travel from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. They also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

There are three types of cancerous ovarian tumors, identified by their location:

  • Epithelial tumors are the most common, developing in the epithelium, the thin layer of tissue covering the ovaries
  • Germ cell tumors develop in the egg-producing cells of the ovaries
  • Stromal tumors develop in the cells that hold the ovaries together and produce estrogen and progesterone

The majority of ovarian cancers develop in older women, with more than half  occurring in women 60 years old and beyond. This cancer is more commonly found in white women than African-American women.

Learn more about this cancer