Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common type of cancer among women, after breast, bowel, lung and womb cancer.
More than 7,000 women are diagnosed with the disease every year in the UK. And often, an early diagnosis can mean the difference between life and death.
“Ovarian cancer can be devastating,” says UK cancer charity Target Ovarian Cancer’s website. “Far too many women are diagnosed too late, once the cancer has already spread, making treatment more difficult.”
This is precisely why it’s so important to spot the signs early on.
There are different types of ovarian cancer which can affect different parts of the ovaries. Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most common type, which affects the surface layers of the ovary.
Certain factors can increase a woman’s chances of developing ovarian cancer. These include: old age, family history of the disease, the number of eggs the ovaries release, hormone replacement therapy and endometriosis.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those of other conditions, which can make it difficult to spot for both patients and doctors.
According to the NHS, there are early symptoms to look out for such as persistent bloating, pain in the pelvis and lower stomach, and difficulty eating.
More symptoms of ovarian cancer as included in the slideshow below.
There are two main types of treatment for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer: surgery and chemotherapy.
In most cases surgery is required, says Cancer Research UK. The amount and type of surgery will often depend on the stage and type of cancer.
For some women, who have very early stage ovarian cancer, surgery is the only treatment needed.
In most cases, where there has been a late diagnosis and the ovarian cancer is advanced, patients will require a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
When a woman is diagnosed at the earliest stage, her chance of surviving ovarian cancer for five years or more doubles from just 46% to more than 90%.