Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in the ovaries. It is the fifth most common cause of cancer deaths in women.

Experts do not know exactly what causes ovarian cancer. But they do know that DNA changes play a role in many cancers. The risk for developing ovarian cancer rises for women who are past menopause, women who have a close family relative with the disease, women who have had breast cancer, and white women (who have a higher risk than African-American women).

Early ovarian cancer may cause symptoms such as recent, frequent bloating, or pain in the belly or pelvis. It may also cause difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or urinary problems, such as feeling an urgent need to urinate or urinating more often than usual. But the early symptoms of ovarian cancer start suddenly, happen almost every day, and don't go away. They also feel different than the usual digestive or menstrual problems. Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks need to talk with their doctors.

Ovarian cancer is treated with surgery and, in most cases, chemotherapy.

Last Updated: June 15, 2009

Author: Bets Davis, MFA

Medical Review: Joy Melnikow, MD, MPH - Family Medicine & Ross Berkowitz, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

related physicians

related services

Bon Secours International| Sisters of Bon Secours USA| Bon Secours Health System

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use. Privacy Policy. How this information was developed to help you make better health decisions.

© 1995-2010 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.