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What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries, a pair of small organs located low in the tummy that store eggs.

Please note: Some advice, such as visiting a GP face-to-face, may not be relevant while COVID-19 social distancing measures are in place

Around 7,000 women in the UK are affected by it each year, and it is often diagnosed late as symptoms are similar to those of other conditions.

What are the symptoms?

Some symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • pain in your lower tummy or pelvic area that lasts for a long time
  • not feeling hungry
  • feeling or being bloated
  • swelling in your tummy
  • feeling full straight after eating
  • needing to wee more often than usual
  • tiredness and weight loss that you can’t explain
  • changes in your bowels, such as the number of times you poo, or how often you poo, particularly if you are 50 or older

When should I see a GP?

If you’re experiencing the symptoms above, particularly if very often, it’s important that you see your GP.

This is especially important if someone in your family has had ovarian cancer.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are also similar to irritable bowel syndrome, so it’s best to check and find out the cause.

If you have already seen a doctor but your symptoms continue or get worse, go back and explain this.

What treatments are available?

There are a few different treatments for ovarian cancer depending on your health, the type of ovarian cancer you have and how far the cancer has spread.

Sometimes, the cancer cannot be cured, and health professionals will use treatment to try to reduce symptoms and control the spread of the cancer as much as possible.

Treatments include:

  • chemotherapy – which kill cancer cells
  • surgery to remove as much of the cancer as possible.

Can I still get pregnant?

If ovarian cancer is diagnosed very early it might be possible to only remove the ovary with the cancer and fallopian tube, leaving you with one healthy ovary and your womb. This means you might be able to become pregnant.

Most surgery for ovarian cancer removes your ovaries, womb and the fallopian tubes connecting them to each other. This means you will not be able to get pregnant.

For more information about ovarian cancer including further symptoms, advice and treatment:

Visit the NHS website