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Illustration Copyright © 2016 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.

NCCN Guidelines for Patients



Ovarian Cancer, Version 1.2017


Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer

The ovaries make eggs for reproduction (making

babies). They also make female hormones that affect

breast growth, body shape, and the menstrual cycle.

Eggs pass out of the ovary and travel through the

attached fallopian tube into the uterus. The uterus is

where babies grow during pregnancy. It is also called

the womb. At least one ovary and the uterus are

needed for a woman to have a menstrual cycle and

be able to become pregnant.

Ovarian cancer

Cancer is a disease of cells—the building blocks that

form tissue in the body. Inside all cells are coded

instructions for making new cells and controlling how

cells behave. These coded instructions are called

genes. Abnormal changes in genes can turn normal

ovarian cells into cancer cells.

Normal cells grow and divide to make new cells. New

cells are made as the body needs them to replace

injured or dying cells. When normal cells grow old

or get damaged, they die. Cancer cells don’t do this.

The changes in genes cause cancer cells to make

too many copies of themselves.

See Figure 2.

Figure 2

Normal versus cancer

cell growth

Normal cells divide to make

new cells as the body needs

them. Normal cells die once

they get old or damaged.

Cancer cells make new cells

that aren’t needed and don’t die

quickly when old or damaged.

Illustration Copyright © 2017 Nucleus Medical Media, All rights reserved.

Healthy cell

Injured cell

Cell death

Normal cell growth

No cell death


cell growth

Cancer cell growth