What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a disease that can disrupt the normal function of the ovaries. If it’s left unchecked, it can affect other parts of the body too.

Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells within the ovary start to multiply, creating a tumour. But it’s important to note that not all tumours are cancerous.

Non-cancerous tumours are called benign tumours. This means they don’t usually spread to other parts of the body. They may need treatment but they’re rarely life threatening.

Malignant ovarian tumours are cancerous and can be life threatening.

It’s important to catch cancers early because they can grow large enough to engulf most of the ovary and spread to other parts of the body too.

You can read more about ovarian cancer in our leaflet - Ovarian cancer - what you need to know.


Where are my ovaries?

Your ovaries are part of your reproductive system. This is located entirely in your pelvis and consists of your vagina, cervix, uterus (womb), endometrium, fallopian tubes and ovaries. 

You have two ovaries, one on each side of your body.

They have two main functions. Firstly, they produce and store eggs for reproduction. Secondly, they produce female sex hormones.

Sex hormones help to develop your vagina, womb, fallopian tubes, breasts and body shape during puberty. They also regulate your menstrual cycle.