Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer that develops in the ovaries, the reproductive glands that produce eggs. It is the fifth-leading cause of cancer-related death among women in the U.S. and comprises about 3 percent of all cancers in women.

UT Southwestern Harold C. Simmons Comprehensive Cancer offers a team of experts in ovarian cancer, including gynecologic oncologists, geneticists, dietitians, psychologists, and many others to help you through your cancer journey.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

There are two primary types of ovarian cancer:

  • Ovarian epithelial carcinoma, which arises in the ovary’s surface cells
  • Malignant germ-cell tumors, which develop inside egg cells

Inherited genetic mutations – including those in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes – as well as some other familial conditions can raise a woman’s risk of both ovarian and breast cancer. Women who think they could be at risk for ovarian cancer due to their health or family history can turn to genetic counseling.

Symptoms and Diagnosis

Ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to the pelvis and abdomen. As it progresses, patients may experience:

  • Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling, or bloating
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain
  • Persistent indigestion, gas, or nausea
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent need to urinate
  • Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full after eating
  • Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
  • A persistent lack of energy
  • Pain in the lower back or side

We use a wide range of oncology imaging techniques to diagnose, treat, and monitor patients with ovarian cancer. These include:


Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on its characteristics and stage, a woman’s overall health, and her preferences and goals. Options typically include:


If ovarian cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, surgery may involve removing only one ovary and its fallopian tube. Women with more advanced stages of ovarian cancer may require surgery to remove both ovaries and their fallopian tubes, the uterus, omentum, and nearby lymph nodes.

Thanks to advances in surgical technologies and tools, UT Southwestern offers a growing number of minimally invasive and laparoscopic techniques for surgically treating ovarian cancer in appropriate patients.

In minimally invasive laparoscopic surgery, small incisions are made in the abdomen. Tiny cameras and instruments are inserted through the incisions (a procedure known as endoscopy). The cameras guide the surgeon as he or she uses the instruments to remove the cancer or diseased organs. AT UT Southwestern, we offer laparoscopic hysterectomy as an option for some patients with ovarian cancer. Because incisions are small, recovery time is often much faster for endoscopic procedures.

Learn more about surgery for gynecologic cancers.


After surgery, most patients require chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells.

Intraperitoneal chemotherapy is an intricate and unique treatment at UT Southwestern that delivers chemotherapy drugs directly into the abdominal cavity through a catheter. Administered in some ovarian cancer cases, it directly targets cancer cells in the abdomen, minimizing drug exposure to healthy tissues. Only highly experienced oncologists – like those in our gastrointestinal cancer program – are able to offer this type of intense treatment.

Learn more about medical treatments for gynecologic cancers.

Clinical Trials

Many patients qualify to participate in gynecologic cancer-related clinical trials conducted at UT Southwestern to gain access to new medical treatments and to further research of the disease.

Learn about current ovarian cancer clinical trials offered at UT Southwestern.

Meet Our Experts

Our team of ovarian cancer experts includes:

* Dr. Miller is credited with removing the second largest ovarian tumor in the state of Texas. It weighed more than 150 pounds.

Learn more about our team.

Request an Appointment

To schedule an appointment with an ovarian cancer specialist, request an appointment or call 214-645-8300.