Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer among women, largely affecting post-menopausal women. If caught at an early stage, ovarian cancer responds well to treatment, but many women fail to report potential symptoms as they are often easily confused with other conditions.

Early signs of ovarian cancer include:

  • Persistent bloating of the tummy
  • Feeling full quickly or a loss of appetite
  • Pain in the pelvis, abdomen or lower back
  • An urgent need to wee or passing urine more frequently
  • Pain during sex
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Changes to bowel action
  • Unexpected weight loss or gain

Your risk of developing ovarian cancer depends on a number of factors. Age is a key factor as ovarian cancer is more common in women aged between 75 and 79. Genetics is also a factor as women who have a mother or sister diagnosed with ovarian cancer have approximately a three times greater risk of developing the disease than those with no family history. Data suggested that between 5 and 15 out of 100 ovarian cancers are caused by an inherited faulty BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene.

Other possible risk factors include previous cancer diagnoses, using HRT, smoking, being overweight and other medical conditions such as endometriosis or diabetes.

Currently, there is no national screening programme for ovarian cancer available on the NHS. At SureScan, we offer full screening for ovarian cancer including consultation for risk assessment and a combination of tests.

Ovarian cancer screening: blood test for CA125

CA125 is a tumour marker for ovarian cancer; this means it is a chemical that is emitted by cancer cells present in the bloodstream. Women with ovarian cancer tend to have higher levels of CA125 in their blood, although it is possible that levels are raised for other reasons and an ultrasound scan is performed to look for any cysts on the ovaries.

Ovarian cancer screening: pelvic ultrasound scan

The ultrasound scan can be either performed over the abdomen or by putting the probe into the vagina which will give a better scan of the ovaries. Cysts on the ovaries can be harmless or can be a sign of ovarian cancer.