Ovarian Cancer



Ovarian cancer originates either within the ovaries or in the nearby regions of fallopian tubes and peritoneum. Ovarian cancer is the third leading cause of cancer deaths among women in India. The incidence rate and mortality rate for ovarian cancer was reported to be 3.1% in India. It will be diagnosed in one out of 78 women during their lifetime. The ovarian cancer develops in 3 three different types of cells i.e. epithelial cells, germ cells, and stromal cells. These cells can further develop into a tumor.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

Epithelial ovarian tumor

This type of cancer begins in the outer region of the ovaries. It can either be benign, borderline, or malignant type of cancer.

Germ cell tumors

This type of cancer usually begins in the cells that produce ova. It accounts only 2% of the ovarian cancers. Several germ cell tumors are choriocarcinomas, teratomas, endodermal sinus, and dysgerminomas.

Stromal tumors

This type of tumor starts from the cells responsible for producing female hormones, estrogen and progesterone, and hold the ovary together. It accounts for 1% of the ovarian cancers. It is more likely to occur in women above 50 years of age than in young women.


Genetic inherited mutations in genes such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 increases the risk of ovarian cancer. Other mutation in genes such as STK11, MUTYH, and PTEN are also related to increased risk of ovarian cancer. In addition to the inherited mutations some mutations are acquired as a result of exposure to radiation or through chemicals causing cancer.

Risk Factors


The risk of ovarian cancer increases in women above 63 years of age after menopause. It is less common in younger women.


The women who are obese have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. The survival rate of an obese woman with ovarian cancer decreases.

Hormonal therapy after menopause

Increased chances of developing ovarian cancer if a woman is taking hormones such as estrogen and progesterone after menopause. The risk is lower with women who are not dependent on hormones.

Family History

Increased risk of ovarian cancer in women if her mother, daughter, or sister had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer earlier. The risk is higher if there is any family history of breast, colorectal cancer.

Pregnancy history

The chances of developing ovarian cancer increases if the woman has her first full-time pregnancy after 35 years of age or women who have never conceived.

Signs & symptoms

Pain in the abdomen

Stomach filled with gas (bloating)

Loss of appetite

Frequent urination

Severely tired feeling

Pain in the back and stomach



Imaging tests

This test helps in the identification of any tumor or a fluid-filled cyst in Ovarian cancer.

Computed tomography (CT) scans

This test helps to understand if ovarian cancer has further spread to nearby organs. It can only identify the large tumors.

Barium enema X-ray

This test helps in determining whether the cancer cells have entered the colon or large intestine. Colonoscopy is done for women with ovarian cancer.

Chest X-Ray

This is done to determine if the ovarian cancer cells have metastasized to the lungs.