Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the sixth most common cause of cancer death affecting women in Australia. 

There are three types of ovarian cancer:

  • the common epithelial type (90% of cases) that arises from cells on the outside of the ovary
  • the germ cell type that arises from the cells that produce eggs
  • the rare stromal type arising from supporting tissues within the ovary.


There may be no symptoms or symptoms can be non-specific and include:

  • abdominal bloating
  • difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • frequent or urgent urination
  • back, abdominal or pelvic pain
  • constipation
  • menstrual irregularities
  • fatigue
  • indigestion
  • pain during sexual intercourse.


There is currently no screening for ovarian cancer in Australia. If you are experiencing possible symptoms of ovarian cancer, your doctor may suggest several tests or scans to look for cysts, tumours or other changes. 

These tests may include:

  • physical examination where the doctor will check your abdomen for any lumps and do an internal vaginal examination
  • blood tests
  • imaging scans
  • ultrasound
  • CT scan
  • PET scan
  • colonoscopy.

These can show if there are any abnormalities, but a biopsy (taking a tissue sample) is the only way to confirm a cancer diagnosis.

Ovarian cancer resources

The Cancer Council website has information on ovarian cancer, as well as the cancer pathway for ovarian cancer, which includes investigations, diagnosis and treatment.

Last updated: 30 September 2016

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