Home | News | Donate | Directions | Careers| Research

Cancer Care Center

Diseases and Conditions

Ovarian Cancer Patient Care at BMC

Introduction to Ovarian Cancer Patient Care at BMC      
What Is Ovarian Cancer?   
What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?   
What Are the Causes of Ovarian Cancer? 
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed? 
How Is Ovarian Cancer Treated? 
Our Team 
Cancer Clinical Trials 
Cancer Support Services 
Patient Navigators, Nutritionists and Social Workers 


At Boston Medical Center (BMC), the care of patients with ovarian cancer is a collaborative, multidisciplinary process. Organizing our services around each patient, we bring together the expertise of diverse specialists to manage your care from your first consultation through treatment and follow-up visits.

In our highly supportive and collaborative environment, experts in ovarian cancer provide you with the most advanced, coordinated and comprehensive medical care available anywhere—treatment that is effective and innovative in curing and controlling cancer and managing its impact on your quality of life.

At BMC, diagnosis and treatment of patients with ovarian cancer combines the resources of a multidisciplinary clinical center dedicated to personal, patient-focused care with the state-of-the-art expertise and technological advances of a major teaching hospital. As the primary teaching affiliate of the Boston University School of Medicine, BMC is at the forefront of clinical practice, surgical expertise and research in oncology.

Ovarian cancer is a treatable disease. In our culture of innovation, collaboration and compassionate care, you will receive treatment from physicians who are nationally recognized leaders in the care of patients with all stages of ovarian cancer.

To schedule an appointment or refer a patient, call BMC Connect at 1.800.841.4325. Patients with a diagnosis or strong suspicion of cancer are given appointments within 72 hours.

What Is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. The ovaries, which are a part of the female reproductive system, are located on either side of the uterus within the pelvic region of the body. The ovaries produce eggs (also called ova) and are the primary source of several female hormones.
There are three main types of malignant (cancerous) ovarian tumors:

  • Epithelial (surface) cell tumors begin in the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovary. They are the most common type of ovarian tumor.
  • Germ cell tumors begin in the cells that form the eggs (ova) and are fairly rare.
  • Stromal cell tumors begin in the cells that help keep the ovary together and produce the female hormones. This type of tumor is also a rare type of ovarian tumor.

Many ovarian tumors are benign (noncancerous) and never spread beyond the ovary. The cancerous tumors are more dangerous because they may spread to other parts of the body. 

What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and non-specific. However, women with ovarian cancer often report signs and symptoms that include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Feeling full
  • Constipation
  • Frequent urination
  • Pelvic pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Shortness of breath from fluid build-up around the lungs

If you have concerns about any symptoms you may be experiencing, please consult your physician immediately.

What Are the Causes of Ovarian Cancer?

Although the exact causes of ovarian cancer remain unknown, certain risk factors connected to the disease have been identified. Risk factors are things that increase an individual's chances of developing cancer, but they are not direct causes of the disease. While risk factors may be useful in identifying high-risk individuals, they do not determine whether a person develops a disease. Some risk factors, such as diet, are within our control, while others, such as age, are not.

Some risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

  • Age:  Older women have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer. Most women who develop ovarian cancer are over age of 50.

  • Family History:  If women have immediate family members with ovarian cancer, they have an increased risk of the disease. Family histories of breast and colon cancers may also increase the risk of ovarian cancer.

  • Genetic Syndromes:  There are several inherited gene mutations (changes to a cell’s genetic makeup) that may increase a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer. For example, mutations in either the BRCA1 or the BRCA2 genes increase your risk for both ovarian and breast cancers and may be passed on through generations. Visit this link for more information on the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes and how having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation can increase a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer.

  • Obesity:  Women who are obese have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

  • Having Children:  Women who have given birth have a decreased risk of developing ovarian cancer. A woman’s risk continues to drop with each additional full-term pregnancy.

Currently, there are no screening procedures in place to detect ovarian cancer. However, patients with a strong family history of ovarian or breast cancer may be eligible for genetic counseling. For more information, please visit Genetic Counseling, or talk to your doctor to request a referral.