Ovarian cancer

Quick reference guide

Every year 6,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and around three in four are diagnosed when their cancers have spread.

Ovarian cancer can be hard to detect and diagnose because its signs and symptoms can indicate other more common and less serious conditions. The three most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • Bloating of the abdomen that is persistent and does not come and go
  • Difficultly eating and feeling full more quickly
  • Abdominal and pelvic pain experienced most days.

A woman persistently experiencing one, or any combination, of the above symptoms should be referred to her GP.

Some women may also experience;

  • Urinary frequency or urgency
  • Changes in bowel habit
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss.

These symptoms are very common and may suggest other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). However, IBS rarely presents for the first time in women aged over 50, the group most at risk of ovarian cancer.

Sections on this page

  • Why is this important for you?
  • Who needs to read this?
  • What this guidance will tell you
  • At risk patients
  • How can pharmacists help?
  • When should I refer a patient to their GP?
  • How common is ovarian cancer?
  • Causes of ovarian cancer
  • How is it diagnosed?
  • Ovarian cancer outcomes
  • Ovarian cancer awareness month
  • Some myths about ovarian cancer
  • Where to go for further information
  • References

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