The ovaries are two small glands that make up part of the female reproduction system having two main functions; production and storage of eggs, and the production of the female sex hormones, oestrogen and progesterone.
There are three types of Ovarian cancer with epithelial cancer tumours comprising around 90% of all ovarian cancers. These tumours occur most commonly in women between the ages of 40 and 60.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women in the UK, with around 7,300 women diagnosed every year. Symptoms of advanced ovarian cancer include:
- feeling full quickly
- loss of appetite
- persistent pain in the abdomen
- abdominal bloating
- increased frequency of passing water
- unexplained tiredness
- unexplained weight loss
- changes in bowel habit or symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome, especially if this starts after the age of 50
The prognosis for ovarian cancer depends on the stage of your cancer and the extent to which it has metastasized. Again, early detection is critical as this results in a 5 year survival of over 94%. Unfortunately currently in the UK only about 20% of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage. There is no NHS screening program for this disease despite recent trials demonstrating the effectiveness of the combination of blood tests for a specific ovarian cancer marker together with imaging of the ovaries by ultrasound scanning.