About ovarian cancer

What are the ovaries?

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive organs. They are two small oval-shaped organs on each side of your womb in the lower abdomen (pelvis). Each month, in a woman who is fertile, an egg is made in one of the ovaries. The egg leaves the ovary and passes down a tube called the fallopian tube to the womb.

If the egg is not fertilised by the sperm, it leaves the womb with the lining of the womb. This happens as part of a monthly cycle known as a period (menstruation). The ovaries also make the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.

What is ovarian cancer?

Cancer of the ovary is when the normal cells in the ovary change and grow to form a malignant tumour or cancer. It can also be called ovarian cancer. Because the ovaries are deep in the pelvis, the tumour as it gets bigger may affect nearby organs.

This can include the bladder or the bowel. When this happens, the tumour may affect how theses organs normally work. This in turn can lead to symptoms.

How common is ovarian cancer?

In 2017 it was estimated that around 410 women in Ireland each year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.