Ovarian cancer

There were 198 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in Northern Ireland in 2017. Most cases of ovarian cancer (but not all) are diagnosed in women who have gone through ‘the change of life’ or menopause. The earlier ovarian cancer is detected, the easier it is to treat and the better chance of survival. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those seen in more common conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, so GPs may find it hard to diagnose. It is important to remember that cervical screening tests (smear tests) will not help to detect ovarian cancer.

Signs and Symptoms

Ovarian cancer symptoms are:

  • frequent – they usually happen more than 12 times a month;
  • persistent – they don’t go away;
  • new – they are not normal for you and may have started in the last year;
    • persistent pelvic or abdominal pain (that’s your tummy and below)
    • increased abdominal size/persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
    • difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
    • urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual).

Occasionally there are other symptoms:

  • changes in bowel habits;
  • extreme fatigue (feeling very tired);
  • unexplained weight loss.

If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important that you see your GP.

Ovarian cancer: Anne's story


There are a number of websites that provide information relating to ovarian cancer, these include:

This is not an exhaustive list and other sources of support in Northern Ireland can also be accessed via Northern Ireland Cancer Network.