Reducing your risk of ovarian cancer

About 1500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia each year.

The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown. Risk factors include: being over 50 and postmenopausal; never having children; having endometriosis; and lifestyle factors, such as smoking and being overweight.

Finding ovarian cancer early

There is no test for the early detection of ovarian cancer. Screening tests, such as the Pap test and new HPV test, don’t detect ovarian cancer. The best thing you can do is to know your body so you can recognise any changes and be aware of the symptoms. These include:

  • a swollen or bloated abdomen
  • pain in the abdomen, pelvis or back
  • loss of appetite or feeling full quickly
  • changes in bowel habits, such as constipation and diarrhoea
  • unexplained weight loss or gain
  • indigestion or heartburn
  • pain during sexual intercourse.

These symptoms are common to many conditions, and most women with them will not have ovarian cancer. If you experience any of these symptoms and they are unusual for you, see your doctor.