Ovarian cancer is malignant tumor that can form in different parts of the ovary. The cancer can begin in the cells that line the surface of the ovary (epithelial carcinoma of the ovary), in the cells that produce ova (germ cell tumor of the ovary) or the cells of the connective tissue that link the different elements of the ovary (stromal tumor of the ovary). However, malignant ovarian cancers are epithelial carcinomas. The cancer can affect one or both ovaries.
The ovaries are two small oval organs of the internal female reproductive system. They are located in the lower abdomen on either side of the uterus, near the end of the fallopian tubes. Their two main functions are to secrete hormones (estrogen and progesterone for example) and ensure ovulation. Each month, in women of childbearing age, an ovary releases an egg. Once released, the egg is moved from one of the fallopian tubes to the uterus, where it can be fertilized by sperm and develop into a fetus. If the egg is not fertilized, it will be expelled with menstrual flow. To accomplish these important functions, the ovarian cells work harmoniously before dying to be replaced by new-born cells.