Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries — each about the size of an almond — produce eggs as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancers can be one of three types: epithelial, stromal, or germ cell. Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common type. Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague, making it harder to detect ovarian cancer in early stages.
Standard treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery to remove the tumor(s) and to assign the cancer a stage (I,II, III or IV). Many patients with ovarian cancer will also receive chemotherapy, sometimes given directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneal chemotherapy). Radiation is rarely used for ovarian cancer. Most of the clinical trials in gynecologic cancer are focused on treatments for ovarian cancer. It is not unusual for patients with ovarian cancer to be offered clinical trial participation.
Cancers of the fallopian tube and the peritoneum are almost identical to ovarian cancer in their behavior and treatment.
In younger patients, issues pertaining to fertility preservation may be addressed before a surgery to remove one or both ovaries.
Women who carry BRCA1 and BRCA2 mutations are at increased risk of ovarian and fallopian tube cancer and may elect to remove the ovaries and tubes once child-bearing is complete.