Middle aged woman

Ovarian cancer

Around 410 women in Ireland each year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

The main treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery. Other treatments include chemotherapy and radiotherapy.

On this page:

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is when the normal cells in the ovary change and grow to form a tumour. 

Because the ovaries are deep in the pelvis, if the tumour gets bigger it may affect nearby organs. This can include the bladder or the bowel. This in turn can lead to symptoms.

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women. Each year about 400 women are diagnosed with it in Ireland.

What are the ovaries and what do they do?

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They are two small oval-shaped organs on each side of your womb in your lower abdomen (pelvis). 

Each month, if you are fertile, an egg is made in one of your ovaries. The egg leaves your ovary and passes down a tube called the fallopian tube to your womb. If the egg is not fertilised by sperm, it leaves your womb with the lining of the womb. This happens as part of a monthly cycle known as a period (menstruation). The ovaries make the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, which control your periods. 

You are fertile from the age when periods starts (puberty) to when they stop (menopause). During the menopause less hormones are made, so periods gradually stop.

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