While you might have heard about ovarian cancer, you might be unsure of the symptoms you should look out for as well as the causes and how it’s treated.

This type of cancer “can affect anyone who has ovaries” but it “mostly affects women over the age of 50”, the NHS website explains.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are not always obvious so it’s worth knowing which ones to look out for – here’s what we know.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

If you have ovarian cancer, you might notice that you have the following symptoms roughly 12 or more times a month - a swollen tummy or feeling bloated, pain or tenderness in your tummy or your pelvis, no appetite or feeling full quickly after eating, and urgent need to wee or needing to wee more often.

Other symptoms can include indigestion, constipation or diarrhoea, back pain, feeling tired all the time, losing weight without trying and bleeding from the vagina after the menopause.

The NHS urges anyone who has any symptoms of ovarian cancer to see a GP because finding cancer early could mean it’s more treatable.

What are the causes of ovarian cancer?

As you get older, the risk of getting ovarian cancer is greater – the NHS website says “more than half of all cases in the UK in women aged 65 or over”.

You might have a higher chance of getting this type of cancer if you have inherited a faulty gene or had breast or bowel cancer.

If you’ve had radiotherapy for another type of cancer or have endometriosis or diabetes you’re also at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The NHS adds that you could also be at a higher risk of ovarian cancer if you:

  • started your periods at a young age or started the menopause late (over the age of 55) or if you’ve not had a baby as this could mean you’ve released more eggs (ovulated more)
  • have never used a hormonal contraception like the pill or an implant
  • take hormone replacement therapy (HRT)
  • are overweight or smoke

People who have had their ovaries removed can still develop ovarian cancer as it can also affect the fallopian tubes or the lining inside the tummy (peritoneum).

How to lower your risk of developing ovarian cancer

While ovarian cancer can’t always be prevented, there are some things you can do to lower your risk such as quitting smoking, staying a healthy weight or losing weight if you’re overweight and speak to a GP about possible tests and treatment if this type of cancer runs in your family.

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How is ovarian cancer treated?

How ovarian cancer is treated will depend on a few factors including the size and type you have, the location of the cancer, whether it has spread and your general health.

The main treatments for ovarian cancer are chemotherapy and surgery while other treatments include radiotherapy, targeted medicines and hormone treatments.

You can find out more about ovarian cancer via the NHS website.