I'm looking for

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer develops in the ovary and can spread to other parts of the body. Many people currently use “ovarian cancer” as an umbrella term to include not only ovarian cancer but also fallopian tube cancer and primary peritoneal cancer. Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women. Of all the cancers affecting women, ovarian cancer is the fifth most deadly. It is estimated that 22,240 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and 14,070 will die from this disease.

Ovarian cancer is usually not inherited. However, up to 24 percent of cases may be related to inheriting a genetic mutation, even if the family history does not include ovarian or breast cancer. For that reason, it is critical for a woman to have a discussion with her health care team about her genetic predisposition to ovarian and other types of cancers at the time of diagnosis. The National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) recommends that all women with ovarian, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer undergo genetic counseling and consider genetic testing.

NEXT: Risk Factors


Learn general information, including risk factors and symptoms, and what to do if your doctor suspects you or your loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. SGO also has a useful toolkit for ovarian cancer survivors.

This document, developed as an aide to patients, summarizes current scientific data and expert opinions pertaining to ovarian cancer. The presented information does not prescribe an exclusive course of treatment and is not exclusionary of other acceptable methods of management including surgery, chemotherapy and radiation therapy. Treatment modifications typically take into account individual risks and needs as well as resources at particular institutions or regions throughout the world.

Share helpful resources with your patients

The Foundation for Women’s Cancer (FWC), the official foundation of SGO, has produced great resources for your patients and their families in collaboration with SGO members. Visit the FWC website to download, print or order patient-focused educational materials.