Ovarian cancer is the commonest cause of death from gynaecological malignancy in the Western world. About 5000 new cases of this cancer are diagnosed each year in England and Wales (5% of all cancers), and it is the fourth commonest cancer in all women up to 85 years (after cancers of the breast, lung and large bowel). The life-time risk of developing ovarian cancer, in England and Wales, is 1 in 56, or 1.8% by the age of 85. Ovarian cancer incidence in England and Wales has increased gradually in the last two decades. Mortality rates are only slightly lower than the incidence rates – a reflection of its poor prognosis. In England and Wales, only 29% of women with the malignancy survive as long as five years after diagnosis although younger women do survive longer: 69% of those who are under 40 years old at diagnosis survive for five years compared to less than 20% for those aged 70 or more. Because of its high incidence and poor prognosis, ovarian cancer also represents the fourth most common cause of death from cancer among women in England and Wales, accounting for about 3600 deaths per year (7% of all cancer deaths).