Ovarian cancer treatment and diagnosis

Most cases of ovarian cancer affect women who have been through the menopause, normally aged over 50.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovaries contain a woman’s supply of eggs. They also make the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone, and small amounts of the male hormone, testosterone.

Ovarian cancer is when abnormal cells begin to multiply and form a tumour. The most common type of ovarian cancer is epithelial cancer. This starts in the cells that cover the ovary or fallopian tubes.

Causes of ovarian cancer

No one knows what causes ovarian cancer. However, you may be more at risk:

  • If you are over 50 years old
  • If there’s a family history of ovarian or breast cancer
  • If you have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • If you’ve previously had breast cancer
  • You have endometriosis
  • Are overweight

You may be at less risk if:

  • You are taking the contraceptive pill
  • You breastfed your children
  • You’ve had children

Symptoms of ovarian cancer

It can be difficult to recognise the signs of ovarian cancer. They are similar to other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome and may include:

Feeling bloated, or a swollen tummy

Feeling exhausted all the time

Feeling very full when eating

Needing to urinate more often than usual

Pain or discomfort in your pelvic area, or tummy

Unexplained weight loss

Having one or more of these symptoms doesn’t mean you have cancer but it’s best to ask your doctor for advice. The sooner your cancer is detected, the better the chances of treating it successfully.

Tests and diagnosis

The doctor will ask about your symptoms and any family history of ovarian or breast cancer. They may check your tummy for lumps or swelling, and you may have an internal examination. Other tests can include:

  • Blood tests to look for kidney function and to check tumour markers (ca 125)
  • Vaginal and pelvic ultrasound scan
  • CT scan of the chest/abdomen/pelvis
  • MRI scan of the pelvis to rule out any metastases
  • Needle biopsy to remove a sample of cells or fluid for analysis
  • Laparoscopy – keyhole surgery to remove tissue samples for analysis

Treatments we offer

Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the stage of the cancer. Early ovarian cancer can be treated with surgery alone. Advanced ovarian cancer may require a combination of chemotherapy, surgery and radiotherapy.

Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

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Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

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Radiotherapy kills cancer cells. It’s used in the early stages of cancer treatment or after it has started to spread. It can also be used to relieve pain and discomfort from cancer that has spread.

Read more

Chemotherapy is medication that treats your cancer. The drugs kill cancer cells, preventing them from dividing and spreading further.

Read more

Meet our doctors

Our-doctors

Everything we do is focused on designing better care for our patients. With a network of 12 specialist oncology treatment centres across the UK, we provide the most up-to-date treatments and technology as standard.

We attract and retain some of the most experienced doctors in the country, who all have a passion for improving patient outcomes and specialise in the treatment of different types of cancer.

Meet our doctors

Birmingham

Little Aston Hall Drive, Sutton Coldfield, B74 3BF

+44 (0)121 514 1185

Bristol

300 Park Avenue, Aztec West, Bristol, BS32 4SY

+44 (0)1454 642801

Cambridge

Fordham Rd, Newmarket CB8 7XN, UK

+44 (0)1223 633 664

Chelmsford

Springfield Cancer Centre, Lawn Lane, Chelmsford, CM1 7GU

+44 (0)1245 676 351

Cromwell Hospital

164-178 Cromwell Rd, Kensington, London SW5 0TU, UK

+44 (0)203 613 9355

Elstree

Unit 710, Centennial Park, Centennial Avenue, Elstree, Borehamwood, WD6 3SZ

+44 (0)203 613 9356

Guildford

BMI St Martha Oncology Centre, 46 Harvey Road, Guildford, GU1 3LX

+44 (0)1483 676 898

Maidstone

17 Kings Hill Avenue, Kings Hill, West Malling, ME19 4UA

+44 (0)1732 386 599

Milton Keynes

Sunrise Parkway, Linford Wood East, Milton Keynes, MK14 6LS

+44 (0)1908 448 166

Nottingham

The Park Centre for oncology, Sherwood Lodge Drive, Burntstump Country Park, Nottingham, NG5 8RX

+44 (0)1156 762 989

Oxford

Peters Way, Sandy Lane West, Oxford, OX4 6LB

+44 (0)1865 224 884

Portsmouth

Bartons Road, Havant, PO9 5NA

+44 (0)23 9280 0102

Southampton

Spire Hospital, Chalybeate Close, Southampton, SO16 6UY

+44 (0)238 008 5138

Windsor

69 Alma Road, Windsor, SL4 3HD

+44 (0)1753 465 493

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