Ovarian cancer: Warning signs, symptoms, diagnosis, and more

Ovarian cancer: Symptoms, causes, tests, scans, diagnosis, surgery, chemotherapy and treatment

ovarian cancer

by Kayleigh Dray |
Published on

How common is ovarian cancer?

Around 7,100 women are diagnosed with cancer of the ovary in the UK each year.

It’s the fifth most common cancer among women after breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer, and cancer of the uterus (womb).

However it is the most deadly gynaecological cancer; the UK has one of the lowest survival rates in Western Europe, with a woman dying from ovarian cancer every two hours.

That amounts to 4,300 deaths each year.

Who is most at risk of ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer can affect women of any age.

However it is most common in women who have been through the menopause, which means that it usually falls within the 45+ age bracket.

Age and family can also increase the likelihood of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Read more about ovarian cancer risk factors here.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly in the early stages, as they are similar to those of other conditions.

However there are some key indicators and warning signs, including persistent stomach aches and bloating, difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, and needing to urinate more often.

Read more about ovarian cancer symptoms here.

What is an ovarian cancer symptoms diary?

Ovarian Cancer Action recognises that speaking up about your health can be difficult and has developed a symptoms diary to help women record their symptoms and take it to their GP.

Search for ‘Ovarian Cancer Action’ in your phone’s app store, or download a paper version at www.ovarian.org.uk

Testing for ovarian cancer: How is it diagnosed?

There is currently no screening for ovarian cancer, and it cannot be detected in a cervical smear.

If your GP suspects ovarian cancer they may arrange a number of tests.

Read more about these tests - and how ovarian cancer is diagnosed- here.

What are the stages of ovarian cancer?

Doctors use four stages when it comes to grading cancer, known as the FIGO system after its authors - the International Federation of Gynaecological Oncologists.

Read more about the stages of ovarian cancer here.

What is the treatment for ovarian cancer?

Treating ovarian cancer often involves surgery followed by chemotherapy but some women may need chemotherapy before surgery.

Katherine Taylor, Chief Executive of Ovarian Cancer Action, explains: “Every woman’s treatment journey is individual to them and your oncologist will advise you on the best treatment plan to suit you.

“Your treatment plan will be shaped by the type of ovarian cancer you have, how far it has spread and your general health.”

Almost all women with ovarian cancer will need surgery.

What is the prognosis for ovarian cancer?

Ovarian Cancer Action says one of the reasons for the poor survival rate in the UK is that the disease is often spotted too late.

The charity’s Chief Executive, Katherine Taylor, says: “Ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose yet early diagnosis is crucial.

“When women are diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90% chance of surviving for more than five years but this reduces to 22% when diagnosed in the later stages.

“Too often we hear stories of women not being heard, of their cancer being diagnosed too late.”

Find out more about ovarian cancer survival rates here.

What can I do to support ovarian cancer awareness month?

Ovarian Cancer Action wants supporters to get involved by organising a local #WalkInHerName.

The money raised will fund life-saving research and awareness work. For more information, or to get involved, visit Ovarian Cancer Action.

Where can I find support if I’ve been diagnosed with ovarian cancer?

Visit Ovarian Cancer Action for more information, printable symptoms diaries, real life stories, and support.

You can also visit:

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