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Women's Cancer Research Foundation Ovari

About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer deaths in women in the United States. That is more than any other gynecologic cancer. 

All women are at risk for ovarian cancer, however, the risk increases with age. Approximately half of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older.  

What is Ovarian Cancer?

While cancer that affects the ovaries is considered ovarian cancer it is important to note that there are several different types of ovarian cancer. The ovaries are made up of several different types of cells, therefore, each type of cell can develop into a different kind of cancer which then dictates how it is spread, how it is treated and the prognosis of the disease. 


For the purpose of these patient information pages we will focus on the three main types of Ovarian Cancer and the general risks, symptoms, screening and treatment options. 


  • Epithelial Cancer - this type of ovarian cancer begins from the cells that cover the outside of the ovary

  • Germ Cell Cancer - this type of ovarian cancer begins from the ovarian cells that make the eggs

  • Stromal Cancer - this type of ovarian cancer begins from the cells that hold the ovary together and also make the female hormones 

Several factors can increase your risk for ovarian cancer.

  • Age - half of all ovarian cancers are found in women over the age of 63

  • Obesity (unhealthy body fat ratio)

  • Having children later or never having a full term pregnancy

  • Hormone therapy after menopause

  • A family history of ovarian cancer, breast cancer or colorectal cancer

  • Using fertility treatment (IVF)

  • Having HAD breast cancer

While the above risk factors do not mean that you will get uterine cancer they do increase your risk. It is imperative that you speak with your doctor, review your medical history, and determine if you should receive more frequent exams/screenings.

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