Ovarian cancer is characterized by the abnormal and uncontrollable growth of cells within the ovaries, the egg-producing organs of the female reproduction system. Often, uncontrollable cell growth leads to the development of tumors, which are masses of irregular tissue. Tumors may be benign (noncancerous), malignant (cancerous) or borderline cancerous (low malignant potential). Tumors are further categorized by the cell type from which they arise:
Epithelial tumors start from the epithelial cells, which cover the outermost surface of the ovary. These account for the majority of ovarian tumors.
Germ cell tumors start from the germ cells, which are responsible for egg production.
Stromal tumors start from the cells responsible for the production of reproductive hormones estrogen and progesterone.
According to the American Cancer Society, an estimated 21,980 new cases of Ovarian cancer were diagnosed in 2014. Ovarian cancer is the fifth most deadly cancer for women, placing after breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. If caught early, ovarian cancer has a relatively high success rate. However, because of its relatively undisruptive symptoms, many cases are not discovered until they have progressed to a later stage, significantly decreasing the chances of successful survival. New developments in treatment and detection technologies in the last several decades have helped to increase the expected survival rate for ovarian cancers across the board.