About the condition
Cancer of the ovary is the fifth most common cancer among women. It affects more than 6,500 women in the UK each year, and is usually diagnosed in women who have gone through the menopause (usually over the age of 50).
Ovarian cancer occurs when the genetic material of cells in the ovary become damaged or changed, producing mutations that affect normal cell growth and division. The abnormal cells then replicate, causing cancer. If undetected, the cancer can spread beyond the ovaries and move to other parts of the body.
The precise causes of ovarian cancer are unknown, but several risk factors have been identified. These include endometriosis, a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, and women who take hormone replacement therapy. More information on risk factors can be found here.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly in early stages of the disease. This is because they are often the same as symptoms of other less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome or pre-menstrual syndrome. However, the following three main symptoms are more frequent in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer:
- increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
- persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
- difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous
If any of these symptoms apply to you, or if you have any concerns about similar symptoms, it is essential that you see your doctor at once. Alternatively you can book an appointment with one of our specialists by completing this form online or by calling 020 8247 3351.
If you’re referred to CCL for diagnosis, your consultant or oncologist will advise you on which tests are relevant to your individual symptoms. As the symptoms of ovarian cancer can also indicate several other conditions, it is important that a variety of tests are conducted to obtain an accurate diagnosis. These will include:
- A vaginal or internal examination
- A blood test
- A Computerised Tomography scan, which shows a 3D image of the area being looked at
- An Ultrasound scan, which uses high frequency sound waves to look inside the body and produce live images on a computer display.
- A Magnetic Resonance Imaging scan, a procedure that uses radio waves and a computer to make a series of detailed pictures of areas inside the body
- A laparoscopy, which is where a small incision is made in your abdomen and a flexible camera called an endoscope is used to examine your liver
- An Abdominal Fluid Aspiration, which is where a thin needle is passed into your abdomen to take a sample of fluid to be tested for cancer cells.
- An X-ray, which is when low level radiation is used to create an image of the body.
When ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the doctors will give it a stage. The stage describes the size of the cancer and how far it has spread.
Ovarian cancer has four commonly used stages:
- stage 1 – the cancer only affects one or both of the ovaries
- stage 2 – the cancer has spread from the ovary and into the pelvis or uterus
- stage 3 – the cancer has spread to the lining of the abdomen, the surface of the bowel and the lymph nodes in the pelvis
- stage 4 – the cancer has spread to other parts of the body such as the liver, spleen or lungs
At CCL, patients with ovarian cancer are treated by an experienced multidisciplinary team. This team works together to create a treatment plan to suit the individual needs of the patient. The main treatments for ovarian cancer are:
The treatment you have will depend on the stage your cancer has reached.
If you have any questions about ovarian cancer or would like to book an appointment with one of our ovarian cancer specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.
At CCL we provide support that caters to both the physical and emotional needs of the patient, before, during and after treatment. Following treatment for ovarian cancer, many women have concerns about their sexual health and fertility, and may be experiencing physiological and emotional changes that can be difficult to deal with. CCL provides fertility specialists and psychosexual therapists to help women adapt and adjust to these changes.
We offer a wide range of services for patients, as well as their loved ones, designed to make a very difficult time as easy as possible, and to give our patients the best treatment and support possible. Our support services include counselling, group sessions and much more.
You can find the full range of our support services here. We’ll be with you every step of the way.
If you have any questions about cancer or would like to book an appointment with one of our specialists, complete this form online or call 020 8247 3351.