In the UK, around 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.
It’s the fifth most common cancer among women after breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the uterus (womb).
Ovarian cancer is most common in women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), although it can affect women of any age.
What are the symptoms?
As the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be similar to those of other conditions, it can be difficult to recognise. However, there are early symptoms to look out for, such as:
Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
Pain in the pelvis and lower stomach
Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
Needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual
Other symptoms include:
When to see your GP
It’s important to see your GP if you experience these symptoms, particularly over a long period of time.
Having symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean it’s cancer. But you won’t be wasting anyone’s time by getting it checked out and if it’s not serious, your mind will be put at rest.
Finding ovarian cancer early makes it more treatable. Women diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer have a 90 per cent chance of surviving for more than five years, but this reduces to 22 per cent when diagnosed in the later stages.
A trip to your doctor’s surgery could save your life. And if a friend or relative says they have any of these symptoms, insist they see their doctor.
How to help yourself
It's never too late to stop smoking. No matter what age you stop, it reduces your chances of developing ovarian cancer and makes a real difference to your health in general. There's plenty of support and help available from the NHS. Visit smokefree.nhs.uk or call 0800 169 0169.
Look after yourself
If you are overweight you can lose weight by combining regular exercise and a calorie-controlled diet.
Swimming, cycling, dancing - the more you can do, the better. Even walking to your local shops instead of taking the car can make a difference.
Try to get your 5-a-day. So eat more vegetables, fruit, fish and wholegrain foods. Eat less fatty foods like cakes and pastries and few processed meats like bacon and ham.
Find out more - download these leaflets
Ovarian cancer - leaflet (PDF, 839kb)
Ovarian cancer - easy read leaflet (PDF, 696kb)
Ovarian cancer - large print leaflet (PDF, 421kb)
Ovarian cancer - audio leaflet
Ovarian Cancer Action
The Eve Appeal
Target Ovarian Cancer
Cancer Research UK: ovarian cancer
NHS Choices: ovarian cancer