Wells Road Medical Centre

Ovarian Cancer: What You Need to Know

Ovarian cancer is a severe and often silent disease affecting the female reproductive system. Its subtle symptoms can easily be mistaken for less severe conditions, making early detection challenging.

Common signs include abdominal bloating, pelvic pain, and changes in urinary habits. Understanding the risk factors, such as age, family history, and genetic mutations, is crucial for early diagnosis and effective treatment.

Do you need enlightenment on this condition? This guide provides essential information on ovarian cancer, helping you recognize symptoms, understand your risk factors, and explore available prevention options. Ready to learn more? Read on!

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Anatomy of the pelvis of a woman
Anatomy of the pelvis of a woman

Ovarian cancer is a cancer type that begins in the ovaries; the reproductive glands where eggs are produced. When cells in one or both ovaries, peritoneum, or the fallopian tube start to grow uncontrollably, they can form a tumor and, when left not treated, can lead to cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation reveals that each year, about 1,815 Australians are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and around 1,000 lives are lost to the disease.

This condition is often diagnosed at a later stage because its early symptoms can be subtle, and no early detection is available for it.

What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Woman feels bloated
Woman feels bloated

Since early stages of ovarian cancer don’t usually show symptoms, the later stage’s symptoms can be similar to other conditions. That’s why it’s essential to consult your doctor for an accurate diagnosis and further treatment if you experience these symptoms for more than a number of weeks.

The symptoms associated with this cancer include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency
  • Fatigue
  • Back pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Nausea
  • Indigestion
  • Vaginal bleeding between periods, after menopause, or after intercourse

Avoid self diagnosing at all costs to get proper treatment.

Causes of Ovarian Cancer

Obesity is one of the causes of ovarian cancer
Obesity is one of the causes of ovarian cancer

There is no exact cause of this condition. However, there are several risk factors that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer development, including:

  • Age (over 50)
  • Family history of ovarian, breast, bowel, colorectal, or endometrial cancer
  • Changes in BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes or Lynch syndrome
  • Ashkenazi Jewish descent
  • Early periods (before 12) and late menopause
  • Not having children or having the first child after 35
  • Using oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy or fertility treatment
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Endometriosis
  • Never being pregnant

Types of Ovarian Cancer

Explain uterus model
Explain uterus model

There are several ovarian cancer types. Let’s check out the differences!

Epithelial Ovarian Cancer

This one is the most common type, responsible for about 90% of all cases. This cancer starts in the thin layer of tissue that covers the ovaries’ outside part. Some subtypes of this cancer are mucinous carcinoma and serous carcinoma.

Germ Cell Tumours

Germ cell tumours are a rare ovarian cancer starting in egg-producing cells and are more common in younger women.

Stromal Tumours

Stromal tumours are rare ovarian cancers in hormone-producing tissue, causing symptoms like vaginal bleeding or early puberty. They are typically diagnosed earlier than other types mentioned above.


Taking oral contraceptive pills to prevent ovarian cancer
Taking oral contraceptive pills to prevent ovarian cancer

Just like how there is no exact cause of this condition, there is also no exact prevention. 

However, there are several factors to minimise the risk of developing the cancer:

  • Breastfeeding
  • Taking the oral contraceptive pill (especially for more than five years)
  • Having your fallopian tubes removed or tied
  • Having children before the age of 35

Always consult your doctor on efforts to reduce the risk factors.

Diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer

Pelvic ultrasound
Pelvic ultrasound

The diagnosis process for ovarian cancer typically follows these steps:

Physical Examination

The doctor checks for pelvic abnormalities, lumps, or changes in ovary size and shape.

Blood Tests

Blood tests, like CA-125, can help measure protein levels often elevated in ovarian cancer and are useful in the prognosis of the disease.

Pelvic Ultrasound

It uses sound waves to craft images of ovaries and detect tumours or abnormalities.

CT Scan

This provides detailed images to detect cancer presence and extent, which is essential in ovarian cancer treatment.

PET Scan

It uses radioactive material to highlight cancerous cells and determine the spread.


It examines the colon to detect cancer spread to the gastrointestinal tract.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the survival rate for ovarian cancer?

It depends on the stage at diagnosis. Early-stage ovarian cancer has a higher survival rate, with a five-year survival rate of about 93% for localised cases. If the cancer has spread, the survival rate can drop to around 30%.

How ill do you feel with ovarian cancer?

This cancer symptoms vary widely, from mild bloating and fatigue to severe pain. It can also cause emotional stress. Having support from healthcare professionals and loved ones is important for managing the impact.

Can a pap smear detect ovarian cancer?

No, a pap smear cannot detect ovarian cancer; it screens for cervical cancer. Regular gynaecological exams are important for reproductive health. If you have concerns about ovarian cancer, discuss them with your doctor, who may recommend other tests to evaluate the risk of this cancer.


Understanding ovarian cancer is vital for early detection and effective treatment. By knowing the symptoms, causes, risk factors, and types of ovarian cancer, you can take proactive steps to protect your ovaries health.

Doing regular check-ups, living a healthy lifestyle, and staying alert are key to preventing and managing this condition.

If you have any concerns or symptoms, don’t hesitate to contact Wells Road Medical Centre today. Our medical experts provide comprehensive care and guidance on women’s health, including cancer care for ovarian cancer.