Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cause of cancer deaths in women and the leading cause of gynaecological cancer death in Europe with a lifetime prevalence in the developed world of 1-2%. Primary ovarian tumours are a heterogeneous group, which includes epithelial tumours, sex-cord stromal and germ-cell tumours. There are a number of indications for surgery for ovarian carcinoma: establishment of diagnosis, accurate staging, primary cytoreduction, interval and secondary cytoreduction, and palliative and salvage surgery. Modest improvement in progression-free survival in the lymphadenectomy arm was offset by increased morbidity. Although surgery is usually the primary treatment, ovarian cancer is a chemosensitive disease and chemotherapy has been shown to improve prognosis in advanced disease. Treatment for relapsed disease is usually regarded as a palliative measure in women with symptomatic recurrent tumours. Radiotherapy is mainly used as palliative treatment to reduce pain and, occasionally, to control bleeding.