Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3 percent of all cancers in women, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Despite such relatively small incidence rates, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. 
Gynecologic cancers are any that affect the female reproductive system, including cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Ovarian cancers were previously believed to originate only in the ovaries, which are the two reproductive glands in women that produce eggs for reproduction. However, the American Cancer Society notes that recent evidence suggests that many ovarian cancers actually may start in the cells in the far ends of the fallopian tubes. 
The ovaries are the main source of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. The ovaries mainly contain three types of cells. These cells are affected differently by cancer and give ovarian cancer its subcategories, which include: epithelial tumors (cells on the outer ovary surface), germ cell tumors (cells that produce ova) and stromal tumors (tissues that holds the ovaries together).
Scientists continue to study the genes responsible for ovarian cancer and have uncovered some information about the connection between genes and ovarian cancer. For example, research in this area has led to more effective ways to detect high-risk genes and make recommendations with the goal of reducing a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer, says the ACS. Studies have shown that fallopian tube/ovarian cancers develop in women with BRCA gene mutations more often than doctors had previously suspected. 
Recognizing key symptoms of ovarian cancer can encourage women to take prompt action. The Mayo Clinic states that, while early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms, as the disease progresses it may cause issues that are often mistaken for more benign conditions. Being aware of even subtle bodily changes can prompt women to speak with their doctors. Symptoms may include:
• abdominal bloating or swelling;
• weight loss;
• quickly feeling full when eating;
• discomfort in the pelvic area;
• changes in bowel habits, such as constipation;
• frequent need to urinate;
• abnormal periods; and
• unexplained back pain.
Medline-Plus, a health information resource sponsored by U.S. National Library of Medicine, notes that, to diagnose ovarian cancer, doctors usually perform a physical exam, a pelvic exam, lab tests, an ultrasound, or a biopsy. Treatment usually involves surgery followed by chemotherapy.
The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman’s chance for recovery. Therefore, being aware of unusual symptoms is essential.