Ovarian Cancer


Ovarian Cancer Care 

When you have cancer, you need a team of strong support. A diagnosis of ovarian cancer can feel overwhelming, but you are not alone. We are here for you every step of the way through your journey of diagnosis and treatment.

Cancer treatments have progressed significantly in recent years and survivor rates have increased as a result.

Coordinated Team Approach 

We provide coordinated care that includes the latest treatments in surgery, radiation therapy, and chemotherapy. Each patient is an important and active part of her care team. Our goal is for patients to be involved in all decisions related to care and to always know the next step.

We want to help you feel healthy again. In addition to the critical medical treatments you will receive, we offer health and wellness services that treat the whole body and mind, promoting physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual healing. 

On this page, learn more about ovarian cancer, our services, and what you can expect during your treatment journey. If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at 231-392-8400 or CancerServices@mhc.net.

What is Ovarian Cancer?

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system. They store eggs and produce hormones. 

There are different types and sources of ovarian cancer:

  • Ovarian epithelial cancer is the most common type. This begins in the tissue that covers the ovaries.
  • Cancer can begin at the end of the fallopian tube and spread to the ovary. 
  • Cancer may also begin in the peritoneum – the tissue that lines the abdomen wall – and spread to the ovary. 
  • More rare is ovarian germ cell tumor, which begins in the egg cells. 
  • Ovarian low malignant potential tumor (LMP) is a type of ovarian disease in which abnormal cells form in the tissue that covers the ovaries. LMP rarely becomes cancer.

Early diagnosis of ovarian cancer is difficult because there are usually no obvious symptoms of early ovarian cancer.

Risk Factors

The most significant risk factor is a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer. Women who have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation are at increased risk.

Lynch syndrome may also increase risk. 

Learn More about Ovarian Cancer

What to Expect


Cancer treatment begins with a diagnosis. Through testing, your physician will determine your type of cancer. These test results will help us develop an individualized treatment plan for you.

We understand that this phase can be very difficult as you are waiting for answers. Our goal is to move you through the diagnostic process as quickly as possible in order to minimize the emotional strain.

Your Treatment Plan

We offer a coordinated approach to care that varies based on your specific needs. 

Your case may be discussed at our weekly Tumor Board meetings. This is a multidisciplinary team of physicians and support staff that discusses patients’ care plans and makes recommendations for multiple types of cancer. 

After testing and consultations are complete, your gynecologic oncologist will explain to you the type, stage, and characteristics of the cancer and discuss treatment. 

Treatment for your cancer will depend upon the type, location, and stage of the cancer. Other factors that impact treatment decisions include your age and other health conditions. 

Our physicians provide the latest in treatments. When more complex treatments are necessary, we work closely with specialists across the state and nation. Treatment options may include:

  • Surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes, uterus, and surrounding tissues. Younger women with very early stage tumors who wish to preserve their fertility may have just the affected ovary and fallopian tube removed.
  • Chemotherapy. For some women with more advanced disease, chemotherapy infused into the abdomen directly may be an option associated with improved survival. 
  • Targeted drug therapy 

Health and Wellness at the Cowell Family Cancer Center

We believe that everything matters in cancer treatment.

The Health and Wellness Suite at the Cowell Family Cancer Center in Traverse City offers space for physical, emotional and spiritual healing through integrative therapies, meditation, exercise, nutrition and the arts. 

Services are available for patients, staff, family members, caregivers and the community.

Services include:

Meet our Care Team

Our team of specialists provides screening, diagnosis, and treatment for ovarian cancer. Your care team may include:

Gynecologic OncologistA physician who specializes in diagnosing and treating cancers of the female reproductive organs including cervical cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, vaginal cancer, and vulvar cancer. Gynecologic oncologists have completed an obstetrics and gynecology residency and then pursued subspecialty training through a gynecologic oncology fellowship which includes surgical, chemotherapeutic, radiation, and research techniques that are important to providing the best care for these types of cancer.

Radiation OncologistsPhysicians with an expertise in the use of radiation therapy for treating cancer.

Cancer Genetics Nurse Practitioner: A registered nurse with advanced education and special training in cancer genetics.

Interventional Radiologist: A radiologist who uses image guidance methods to gain access to vessels and organs. Interventional radiologists can treat certain conditions through the skin that might otherwise require surgery.

The Cowell Family Cancer Center Support Team

Genetics Consultation

Ovarian cancer can be associated with certain hereditary gene changes that may increase the risk of developing cancer. These gene changes can be passed on to family members. 

Any woman with ovarian cancer, regardless of age at diagnosis, should consider a genetics consultation. 

You will meet with our nurse practitioner who is specially trained in cancer genetics. She will discuss your family’s risk and genetic testing currently available. 

Support and Guidance

Our care coordination team is here to support you and usually includes a nurse and nurse practitioner who will ensure that your next steps are planned and communicated. 

Our compassionate team also includes a dietitian, a social worker, palliative/supportive care providers, and financial navigators to ensure that your individual needs are addressed. 

For more information regarding Cowell Family Cancer Center services or to be transferred to a regional network facility, call 231-392-8400 and speak with one of our resource specialists.

Availability of support services varies according to the specific regional cancer network location.

Treatment Locations

Cowell Family Cancer Center

You can find treatment and resources for ovarian cancer at our Cowell Family Cancer Center on the Munson Medical Center campus in Traverse City. This state-of-the-art cancer center opened in 2016 and provides most cancer services, including diagnosis, treatment, integrative therapies, follow-up, and supportive care.

Other Locations

Medical oncology follow up visits and chemotherapy may be available to you close to home through our regional cancer network.

Clinical Trials for Ovarian Cancer

Clinical trials are studies that involve people and are the final research step in a long process that begins with lab research. You may want to consider participating in a clinical trial, which gives you access to the latest cancer treatments.

Depending on the clinical trial, part of your care may need to occur in Traverse City.

We have participated in cancer clinical trials for more than 30 years through the National Cancer Institute. This program offers our patients the chance to participate in large, national research trials while remaining at home in northern Michigan.

To learn more about clinical trials for ovarian cancer, visit these websites or talk to your doctor: