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Ovarian Cancer

The ovaries are part of the female reproductive system and are connected to the womb and the tubes and their function is to produce and store eggs (ova). Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer for women in the United Kingdom.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is term covering malignant lumps arising from the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes.

The cancer usually spreads outside of your ovaries and fallopian tubes into the skin of the abdomen, called the peritoneum and the omentum and may also affect lymph nodes.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can sometimes be difficult to recognise because they may be similar to other benign conditions such as IBS.

Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be:

  • Feeling bloated all the time
  • Swelling in the abdomen
  • Abdominal or pelvic area discomfort
  • Urge to urinate more often than you normally do
  • Changes to your regular bowel habits
  • Becoming full very quickly while eating

What causes ovarian cancer?

It isn’t known what causes ovarian cancer, but we know that pregnancy, taking the contraceptive pill, having had a hysterectomy or tubal ligation for example for sterilisation appear to have a protective effect against ovarian cancer.

How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

If you have been experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, you should see your consultant.

They will inquire about your general health, symptoms and family medical history, and perform a physical examination where they will check for swelling or lumps in your abdominal area. They will also take a blood sample to check for tumormakers and often perform an internal examination.

If they think further tests are necessary, you may undergo:

  • Ultrasounds – either transvaginal or abdominal
  • CT-scans
  • X-rays

How is ovarian cancer treated?

The treatment that you receive for ovarian cancer will depend on the type of cancer you have, its stage and whether it has spread. The cornerstone of treatment is usually the combination of specialised surgery and chemotherapy together with new targeted agents, but treatment is being individualised for every patient depending on her preferences, symptoms, exact histological type and stage of disease.

If you’re unsure what treatment you should go for, or the above treatments don’t work for you, our team of expert specialists are here to help.

This content has been checked and approved by

Professor Christina Fotopoulou  ›

Professor Christina Fotopoulou is a Consultant Gynaecologist at King Edward VII’s Hospital.

Find your specialist in ovarian cancer at King Edward VII's Hospital

If you suspect you have ovarian cancer and you’re seeking an expert opinion, you can find the UK’s leading gynaecology specialists here at King Edward VII’s Hospital. Our consultants are hand-picked for you, making it easy to access the best possible care.

Mr Davor Jurkovic  ›
Special interests include:
Ovarian cancer (+ 6) more
Mr Joseph Yazbek  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological imaging (+ 18) more
Professor Christina Fotopoulou  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological cancer (+ 2) more
Professor Sadaf Ghaem-Maghami  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological cancer (+ 3) more
Professor Maria Kyrgiou  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological surgery (+ 6) more
Mr Alan Farthing  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological oncology (+ 3) more
Mr Thomas Ind  ›
Special interests include:
Gynaecological surgery (+ 8) more
Mr Srdjan Saso  ›
Special interests include:
Ovarian cancer (+ 24) more

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