Women have a pair of ovaries, one each on either side of the uterus. They are small organs, about the size of an almond. Ovaries produce ova (eggs) and hormones estrogen and progesterone.
Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries and often goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and the abdomen. If detected at this stage it is difficult to treat and is often fatal. It is the seventh most common type of cancer in the United States with over 25,000 women being diagnosed every year. Women with ovarian cancer frequently do not exhibit any symptoms until the cancer has spread, making it the fifth highest cause of cancer deaths in women.
Only about 20% of women are diagnosed at an early stage before the cancer has spread and there is no definitive screening test to detect early ovarian cancer.