Ovarian cancer starts in the ovaries, where women produce eggs. Ovarian cancer is most common in women over the age of 45, but is becoming more common in young women aged 13 to 24 years.
There are several different types of ovarian cancer, including:
- Epithelial ovarian cancer, affecting the surface of the ovary.
- Germ cell tumours, which originate in the cells that make the eggs.
- Stromal tumours, which develop in the cells that hold the ovaries together.
Epithelial ovarian cancer is by far the most common type of ovarian cancer. This information concentrates on epithelial ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer can be diagnosed through blood tests, ultrasound and CT scans. Treatment includes surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Treatment for ovarian cancer usually involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
Signs and symptoms
The symptoms of ovarvian cancer can be similar to those of other conditions. However, there are early symptoms to look out for:
- Pain in the pelvis and lower stomach (not period pain)
- Bloating (not just around period time)
- Difficulty eating
A cervical screening test (which used to be called a smear test) cannot detect ovarian cancer.
Real life story: Beckii, 16
I had what everyone thought was indigestion for a few months and kept going to the doctors because the medicine they gave me for it wasn’t working. I started to get a slight pain too, so was referred for an ultrasound, which found an enormous ovarian cyst and a week later I had an operation to remove it. I quickly recovered in hospital but was called back and told they’d found cancer cells. I had ovarian cancer. I’d always known it was more serious than indigestion.
I met some amazing people during my treatment and we’re still friends. The people on the Teenage Cancer Trust unit feel like a family to me now.
When I was ill I couldn’t go to school, but my school was really supportive and most of my friends stuck by me, although not all of them did. It also gave me a lot more confidence to meet people and talk to them. Something I didn’t really have before. My boyfriend was also incredibly supportive. I’m very lucky with the people I know.