Endorsed by the European Oncology Nursing Society

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer image

What is ovarian cancer?

  • Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are part of the female reproductive system1
  • The ovaries are made up of 3 different kinds of cells, and each type of cell can develop into a different kind of tumour1

Types of ovarian cancer

  • The main types of ovarian cancer are:2
    • Epithelial ovarian cancer
    • Germ cell cancer
    • Other rare ovarian tumours, e.g. stromal tumours and sarcomas
  • The most common type is epithelial ovarian cancer, which affects the surface layers of the ovary2

Who gets ovarian cancer?

  • Ovarian cancer only affects females1
  • It can occur at any age, but is most common after the menopause3
  • It is the 7th most common cancer in females worldwide4
  • 239,00 new cases were diagnosed worldwide in 20124

Screening, detection, and diagnosis

  • The following tests may be performed to make a diagnosis:
    • A blood test to measure the level of a protein called CA125, which is produced by some ovarian cancers5
    • An abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound to look closely at the ovaries5
    • A CT scan for a more detailed image of the ovaries and surrounding area5
  • Once ovarian cancer has been diagnosed, the following tests may be used to see how far it has spread: a chest X-ray and scans, laparoscopy to take a biopsy, abdominal fluid aspiration6

Patient guidelines

A patient guideline is a document containing information for patients and their families about their disease and the treatment options available to them

Click here to see the European patient guideline on your condition7


Local support groups

Contacting a support group may help you during diagnosis and treatment and afterwards


Click here for information on the incidence of ovarian cancer in Europe8



  1. American Cancer Society. Ovarian cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  2. Cancer Research UK. Types of ovarian cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  3. NHS Choices. Ovarian cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  4. World Cancer Research Fund International. Ovarian cancer statistics. Accessed November 2015.
  5. Cancer Research UK. Ovarian cancer screening. Accessed November 2015.
  6. Cancer Research UK. Further tests for ovarian cancer. Accessed November 2015.
  7. European Society for Medical Oncology. ESMO clinical practice guidelines: gynaecological cancers. Accessed November 2015.
  8. World Health Organization. Ovarian cancer. Accessed November 2015.