Ovarian cancer starts in a woman's ovaries. There are two ovaries, one on each side of the pelvis. The ovaries produce eggs and are the main source of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

There are three main types of ovarian tumors. They are named for the kind of cells that they start from. Epithelial tumors, which develop from the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary, account for 85 to 90% of all cancers of the ovaries. The second type of tumor starts in the germ cells that form the eggs in the ovary. The third type of tumor starts from the stromal cell tissue, which holds the ovary together and produces the female hormones.

Difficult to detect in its early stages, ovarian cancer is often permitted to progress to an advanced stage before it is detected. In fact, the majority of women, 77%, are diagnosed after the disease has reached an advanced stage. Despite advancements in surgery and chemotherapy treatments, the overall five-year survival rate for women with advanced stage ovarian cancer has remained constant over the past 30 years at approximately 15%.

Conversely, those women diagnosed with early stage (Stage I) disease have an overall five-year survival rate approaching 90 to 95%. Clearly, early-stage detection of ovarian cancer is the best way to improve survival.
being proactive can make all the difference - know the symptoms

Be proactive & make a difference

know the symptoms

The sooner ovarian cancer is detected, the better the chances of overcoming it. If you experience any of these warning signs, talk to your doctor:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

While these symptoms also represent common problems that affect most women at different times, it's important to be aware of them. If you have one or more of these symptoms, and if they persist for two weeks or more, see your doctor immediately.

Living With Ovarian Cancer

Being diagnosed with ovarian cancer impacts us physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually, as if we’ve entered an alternate universe where nothing makes sense anymore. It’s frightening. Frustrating. Hard to know what to think, let alone what to ask, what to do or where to look for help. Questions may come at odd moments—and that’s to be expected.  It may give you some peace of mind to know that right now, there are other women who were diagnosed on the same day you were. Statistics tell us that there are around 62 women in the U.S. diagnosed each day. Many of them may be feeling a lot like you do at this moment. And many of them may be viewing this website, just like you are now.

So much information is available online, in books and throughout the community—but it can also be overwhelming if you let it. Pace yourself. Explore a little today and perhaps a little more tomorrow. And, always leave prognosing up to your team of physicians.

We’ve designed this site to be a resource for you and your family and to empower you wherever you are on your path with ovarian cancer. If you have any suggestions or need more help, please contact us.

What to Ask Your Doctor

Your journey with ovarian cancer is one that will be filled with questions, concerns, highpoints and yes—pitfalls. Try to remember that your concerns are valid and you should feel confident about bringing any question you have, no matter how trivial it may seem at first, to the attention of your healthcare team. You should also feel completely justified in changing doctors if you feel that you are not getting the answers you seek.

It may be helpful to keep a tabbed binder in which to organize your healthcare information and paperwork, along with an appointment calendar and a notepad. Write down any questions that come to mind so that you'll have them ready the next time you're in contact with your healthcare team.

Below is a printable list of questions you can bring with you to your next appointment. Be sure to add any questions you come up with between now and then so that you'll have them ready.

  • What type of ovarian cancer do I have?
  • Has my cancer spread beyond the ovaries? At what stage does that put me?
  • What cell type do I have?
  • What is the microscopic grade of my cancer and what will that mean in my case?
  • What treatment options or medications do you recommend for me?
  • Will I need surgery and, if so, how extensive should it be?
  • What risks or side effects should I expect from different treatment options?
  • How can I reduce the side effects?
  • Given the treatment options we discussed, how likely is it that my cancer will return?
  • For how long do you expect I'll need chemotherapy?
  • How will we know whether or not the cancer has returned?
  • How should I prepare for treatment?
  • Should I or anyone else in my family be tested for the genetic mutations commonly associated with ovarian cancer?
  • What nutritional guidelines should I follow?
  • Will I be able to have children after my treatment?
  • What is my expected prognosis?
  • How long might it take for me to recover?
  • How will my treatments affect my work?
  • Will I need a wig?
  • What do I tell my children, husband, parents and other family members?
  • Are there any clinical trials or experimental therapies I might qualify for?
  • How often should I follow up with you or your staff?

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