Ovarian cancer is a disease in which cancerous cells are found in the two small, almond-shaped organs located on each side of the uterus that store eggs or germ cells and produce female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
There are many types of tumors that can start in the ovaries. Some are benign, or noncancerous, and the patient can be cured by surgically removing one ovary or the part of the ovary containing the tumor. Some are malignant or cancerous. The treatment options and the outcome for the patient depend on the type of ovarian cancer and how far it has spread before it is diagnosed.
In women age 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. An estimated one woman in 75 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed this year and that more than 15,000 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.
When diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, the 5-year survival rate is over 90%. But due to ovarian cancer’s non-specific symptoms and lack of early detection tests, only 19% of all cases are found at this early stage.
The Maureen Fund, affiliated with the Hackensack University Medical Center, provides free outreach programs for ovarian cancer prevention, awareness, research, and early detection. Heightened awareness of high-risk factors in personal and family history can help identify early signs and provide empowerment to take action — which in turn can save lives.