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Epithelial ovarian cancer: About 90% of ovarian cancers start in the epithelium tissue, which is the lining on the outside of the ovary. This type of ovarian cancer is divided into serous, mucinous, endometrioid, clear cell, transitional and undifferentiated types. The risk of epithelial ovarian cancer increases with age, especially after the age of 50.
Germ cell ovarian cancer: Germ cell tumors account for about 5% of ovarian cancers. They begin in the egg-producing cells. This type of ovarian cancer can occur in women of any age, but about 80% are found in women under the age of 30. The main subtypes are teratoma, dysgerminoma, endodermal sinus tumor and choriocarcinoma.
Stromal ovarian cancer: These tumors, about 5% of ovarian cancers, grow in the connective tissue that holds the ovary together and makes estrogen and progesterone. Most are found in older women, but sometimes they occur in girls.
Stromal tumors usually do not spread as fast as other ovarian tumors. Sub-types include granulosa, granulosa-theca and Sertoli-Leydig cell tumors.
Primary peritoneal ovarian cancer is a rare cancer. It has cells like those on the outside of the ovaries, but it starts in the lining of the pelvis and abdomen. Women can get this type of cancer even after their ovaries have been removed. Symptoms and treatment are similar to epithelial ovarian cancer. Fallopian tube cancer is also a rare cancer. It starts in the fallopian tube and acts like epithelial ovarian cancer. Symptoms and treatment are similar to ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer screening
While no standardized screening tests for ovarian cancer have been shown to improve outcomes, MD Anderson is working to change that. CA-125, a cancer biomarker being studied at MD Anderson, as well as other new biomarkers, are being evaluated as a screening test.
MD Anderson recommends that women who are at high risk for ovarian cancer be screened regularly. You are considered high risk if you have:
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene
- Hereditary breast ovarian cancer syndrome
- Hereditary non-polyposis colorectal cancer (HNPCC), also called Lynch syndrome
- BRIP1, RAP51C, or RAD51D gene
Ovarian cancer risk factors
Anything that increases your chance of getting ovarian cancer is a risk factor. These include:
- Age: The risk of ovarian cancer increases with age. About half of ovarian cancers are in women over 60.
- Family history of ovarian cancer
- Genetic factors: Approximately 10% to 15% of ovarian cancers are due to genes that make you more likely to develop cancer.
- Never having children. The more children you have, the less likely you are to develop ovarian cancer.
Not everyone with risk factors gets ovarian cancer. However, if you have risk factors, it’s a good idea to discuss them with your health care provider.
Some people have an elevated risk of developing ovarian cancer. Review the ovarian cancer screening guidelines to see if you need to be tested.
Some cases of ovarian cancer can be passed down from one generation to the next. Genetic counseling may be right for you. Learn more about the risk to you and your family on our genetic testing page.
Learn more about ovarian cancer
Why choose MD Anderson for ovarian cancer care?
A team of some of the nation's top experts works together to address your specific condition when you come to MD Anderson's Gynecologic Oncology Center for ovarian cancer treatment and diagnosis.
This group follows you every step of the way, communicating and collaborating closely to deliver outstanding care. Their aim is to deliver the most advanced ovarian cancer therapies with the least impact on your body.
You benefit from this approach, as well as the expertise of some of the nation's top radiologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists and pathologists. They are joined by a support staff extensively trained to provide the highest level of ovarian cancer treatment.
Ovarian Cancer Care Planned Just For You
Your treatment for ovarian cancer is personalized to include leading-edge technologies and techniques. These may include advanced surgical procedures, chemotherapy options and targeted therapies. In addition, we offer treatment for benign (not cancer) tumors of the ovaries.
We are one of the most active centers in the nation for treatment of rare ovarian cancers, offering the highest level of care, as well as clinical trials and innovative approaches, including targeted therapies.
Surgery often is needed for an ovarian cancer diagnosis, and it often is the first line of treatment. Because MD Anderson is a leading cancer center with one of the most active ovarian cancer programs, our surgeons have a high level of expertise that sets them apart from many others.
We are leaders in studying ovarian cancer on the molecular level and translating research into advanced ways to find and treat the disease. Through our high risk ovarian cancer screening clinic and gynecologic cancer genetics clinic, we offer genetic testing for women with hereditary breast ovarian cancer syndrome (HBOC) and other high-risk inherited conditions.
MD Anderson leads the nation in innovative research into the causes, prevention, detection and treatment of ovarian cancer, including rare ovarian cancers. In fact, we are one of the few cancer centers in the nation to house a prestigious federally funded ovarian cancer SPORE (Specialized Program of Research Excellence) program. This means we offer a variety of clinical trials of new ovarian cancer treatments.
Going through cancer gives you an opportunity to see what you're made of.
Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot
MD Anderson’s Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot® aims to rapidly and dramatically improve the disease’s survival rates and reduce suffering through prevention, early detection, research and new treatments.Learn more about the Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot