ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Ovarian Cancer - What You Need to Know

Updated on September 4, 2016

21,500. Twenty one and a half thousand. That's the number of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the US. In the UK it's about 7000. And over 70% of them will die from it, making this disease one of the most deadly of women's cancers. The good news is that, like most cancers, when it's detected early the 5-year survival rate is over 90%.

Early detection needs an awareness of symptoms and that's what we're going to look at here.

Risk factors for ovarian cancer

It's not known why some women get ovarian cancer and some don't but there are risk factors. These include:

  • being overweight/obese
  • having endometriosis
  • being childless/child free
  • early menarche (starting your periods) and/or late menopause
  • having a diet high in animal fats and low in fruit and vegetables
  • genetic factors (this plays an important part in 5-10% of women with ovarian cancer)
  • some studies have shown that oestrogen-only HRT for 10+ years increases risk
  • infertility treatment is not conclusively linked to an increased risk
  • risk increases with increasing age - this is true of many illnesses, especially cancers

Factors which may lower a woman's risk include breastfeeding your babies and having 2 or more children.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer

Symptoms are often vague and can be explained away by other more common complaints. Indeed, symptoms of early cancer are often non-existent. If you are in any way concerned, talk to your doctor sooner rather than later.

Most ovarian cancers occur in women over 50 years of age but they are seen in younger women too, so stay alert.

The Ovarian Cancer Awareness campaign (see ) asks women to be aware of the following 4 symptoms if they occur together on most days:

  • a persistent bloated feeling
  • pain in the lower abdomen
  • needing to pass urine more often than normal
  • difficulty in eating and feeling full more quickly.

Other symptoms to be aware of are:

  • loss of appetite
  • indigestion/nausea/wind
  • unexplained weight gain
  • abdominal swelling
  • lower back pain
  • pain during sex
  • diarrhoea or constipation - changes in bowel habit

All of these symptoms can be caused by many other health problems from stress to irritable bowel syndrome, but if they worry you, do discuss them with a professional and get to the bottom of the problem.

Diagnosis of ovarian cancer

Unfortunately there is no effective ovarian cancer screening tool. The protein CA125 is present in most women at low levels and a blood test can tell if it's high. However it's not a protein that's specific to ovarian cancer and can be high for other reasons which makes it unreliable when looking for ovarian cancer.

Your doctor will want to know about your general health, family history and lifestyle. She may feel your tummy for lumps and bumps, do an internal exam, take some blood tests and arrange a scan of your abdomen which will show any abnormalities on the ovaries. This may be benign cysts or benign tumours. If you feel your concerns aren't being heard - and many general doctors don't know enough about ovarian cancer - ask for a second opinion.

If you need a specialist gynaecology opinion some of these tests may be repeated and you may have x-rays and CT scans which will give a greater picture of what's going on.

Once a problem area has been pinpointed - or if there is doubt about something - you may have a laparoscopy (key-hole surgery to look inside the abdomen) or a laparotomy (where the abdomen is opened surgically to look at the organs). A lab biopsy shows what sort of tissue has been found - ie something to worry about or something benign.

Don't delay...

The reason ovarian cancer is so deadly is 3-fold.

Firstly there are few/no symptoms in the early stages. Secondly women don't discuss any symptoms they do have soon enough and thirdly the lack of a definitive test means that investigations take a while. Later diagnosis means the cancer may have spread.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • Temirah profile image

      Temirah 6 years ago

      Thanks again for taking time to read and write to my hubs! I'm so glad you find them useful and enjoy them.

    • Fluffy77 profile image

      Fluffy77 6 years ago from Enterprise, OR

      Thanks so very much for sharing this one here, I suffer crazy pains from my ovary with cysts on it. My doctor's diet plan has helped quite allot, but most pain management and watching carefully not too over exert my body is all on me really. You can find my Diet plan that has helped relieve some pain on my hubs, thanks again for this very informative and useful Hub.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: ""

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)