Merck Manual

Please confirm that you are not located inside the Russian Federation

honeypot link
Quick Facts

Ovarian Cancer


The Manual's Editorial Staff

Last full review/revision Aug 2021| Content last modified Aug 2021
Click here for the Professional Version
Get the full details
Topic Resources

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer in a woman’s ovaries. Ovaries are the two sex glands that hold a woman's eggs.

  • Ovarian cancer usually happens in women between the ages of 50 and 70

  • Ovarian cancer is hard to find early because it often doesn't cause symptoms at first

  • To treat ovarian cancer, doctors usually remove both ovaries, both fallopian tubes, and the uterus

Internal Female Genital Organs

Internal Female Genital Organs

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The first symptom may be discomfort in your lower belly area as an ovary gets bigger.

Other early symptoms may include:

  • Bloating

  • Not feeling hungry

  • Gas pains

  • Backache

Later symptoms may include:

  • Swollen belly

  • Pain in your lower belly

  • Weight loss

How can doctors tell if I have ovarian cancer?

How do doctors treat ovarian cancer?

Doctors treat ovarian cancer with surgery, usually removing the:

  • Ovaries

  • Fallopian tubes

  • Uterus

Depending on where the cancer has spread, doctors may use chemotherapy instead of or before surgery.

Unless it's caught early, ovarian cancer often comes back after treatment. Doctors use chemotherapy to treat ovarian cancer that comes back.

How can I prevent ovarian cancer?

Some women have genes that increase the risk of ovarian cancer. These genes are called BRCA1 and BRCA2. They also increase the risk of breast cancer Breast Cancer Cancer is when cells grow abnormally. Cancer cells don't look or work like normal cells and keep multiplying out of control. Cancer cells can invade and destroy nearby healthy tissue. Sometimes... read more . If you have family members who've had breast or ovarian cancer, you should talk to your doctor about gene testing. If you have one of these genes, having your ovaries removed may help prevent cancer.

NOTE: This is the Consumer Version. DOCTORS: Click here for the Professional Version
Click here for the Professional Version
Cancers of the Female Reproductive System
Others also read
Test your knowledge
Intracerebral Hemorrhage
An intracerebral hemorrhage is bleeding inside the brain and is considered a medical emergency. Which of the following is often the most common initial symptom of an intracerebral hemorrhage?
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID

Also of Interest

Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID
Download the Manuals App iOS ANDROID