Ovarian Cancer: Classification

The ovaries are small organs located within the pelvis. The ovaries are adjacent to the uterus and fallopian tubes. The major function of the ovary is the production of eggs and the female reproductive hormones including estrogen and progesterone.

The most common type of ovarian cancer is known as epithelial ovarian cancer. Common subtypes of epithelial ovarian cancer include serous carcinoma, mucinous carcinoma, endometrioid carcinoma, clear cell carcinoma, and transitional cell carcinoma. While these cancers can occur in women of any age, the average age of women diagnosed with epithelial ovarian cancer is in the early 60’s.

Non-epithelial ovarian cancers including germ cell tumors and sex-cord stromal tumors are less common than epithelial tumors. The non-epithelial ovarian cancers, particularly germ cell tumors, often occur in younger women and often present with more acute symptoms. The most common germ cell tumor is an ovarian dysgerminoma.

An additional type of ovarian tumor is an ovarian tumor of low malignant potential (LMP) or borderline tumor. Ovarian low malignant potential tumors consist of abnormal ovarian cells and may become cancerous but they usually do not turn cancerous.