Ovarian Cancer Awareness

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month may ahve come to a close, but it is always important to make sure you are familiar with the signs. About every 2 hours a person in the UK dies from Ovarian Cancer. Many people have advanced disease by the time ovarian cancer is diagnosed so don’t ignore the symptoms. If caught in the early stages 5-year survival rates are over 90%.

Here are some symptoms to look out for:

  • Persistent increase in abdominal size or bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Unexplained change in bowel habits
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous
  • Needing to urinate (wee) more regularly

Other symptoms can include tiredness, losing weight, pain during sex and back pain. These can be symptoms of many other conditions too.


About 20% of ovarian cancers are linked to harmful gene mutations in genes such as the BRCA gene. We know that over 95% of people in the UK who have a gene mutation in BRCA don’t know about it. If you have a family history of breast, ovarian, pancreatic or prostate cancer then it is worth talking to your doctor about the option of genetic screening.

Females with a harmful BRCA1 gene mutation have a 40-60% chance of having ovarian cancer in their lifetime. Surgery to remove their ovaries and fallopian tubes reduces the risk of ovarian cancer by over 95%. BRCA gene mutations are especially common if you have Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and we would recommend you consider genetic screening. We have more information on how this can help you here.

When you have possible symptoms of ovarian cancer your doctor is likely to recommend a blood test for a marker called Ca125. Plus an ultrasound scan of your pelvis. Currently we don’t recommend using these tests to screen for ovarian cancer as studies have shown they are not effective for most women.

We do now have available a cancer screening blood test which screen for multiple cancers on a single blood test, including ovarian cancer. Read more here