Ovarian cancer (malignancy of the ovaries) is the fifth most common female cancer. In the United States, there will be an estimated 22,280 women that will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2012, according to statistics from the National Cancer Institute.
In the U.K., the number of women affected by ovarian cancer in 2008 was around 6,500, according to the charity Ovarian Cancer Action. This amounts to an average of 18 British women being diagnosed every day.
These figures translate to a 1 in 54 chance of getting ovarian cancer in a woman’s lifetime. The majority of cases occur in those over 50.
Types of ovarian cancer are:
Epithelial Tumors – These are on the surface of the ovaries. This is the most common type and accounts for 90 percent of cases.
Borderline Tumors – These are "low malignancy" tumors also found on the surface of the ovaries. Because they are low malignancy, this type of cancer can be treated with surgery alone.
Germ Cell Tumors – This is cancer of the germ cells that would have become eggs. This accounts for 5-10 percent of ovarian cancer cases.
Sex Cord Stromal Cell Tumors – This is cancer of the connective tissue that holds the ovaries together and also produces female sex hormones. This type of cancer is very rare and accounts for less than 5 percent of cases.
There are certain things that increase your risk of getting ovarian cancer. These are:
• Never having been pregnant during your childbearing years
• Being in later life (over 50)
• Having a family history of ovarian cancer or cancer of the rectum, colon, uterus or breast or a previous history of having any of those cancers
• Using hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that is an estrogen-only product for more than 10 years
• Ovarian stimulation for IVF procedures may increase the risk of borderline ovarian tumors, although more studies are needed
• Being overweight with a body mass index of over 30
• Having your first period when you are very young or having a late menopause
• Having a history of endometriosis
• Being Ashkenazi Jewish, Dutch, Polish, Icelandic, Norwegian or Pakistani.