Dialog Box

Facts about Ovarian Cancer

In Australia, one woman dies every eight hours from ovarian cancer

While cells in our body usually grow in a controlled and organised fashion, when they grow abnormally, they form a growth or tumour which can be benign or malignant. Benign tumours are not cancerous and do not spread. Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumour in one or both ovaries, which can continue to spread through the body if not treated.

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynaecological cancer.

Every year, around 1,600 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer

And around the world, that number reaches nearly a quarter of a million.

Although tests and scans can show abnormalities, they cannot provide a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. The only way to currently confirm a diagnosis is by taking a biopsy during surgery and looking at the cells under a microscope.

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer in Australian females, but the most lethal gynaecological cancer.

Over 50% of the community incorrectly believes a Pap smear will diagnose ovarian cancer.


There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer

Proportionally, more women die from ovarian cancer than breast cancer, because it is usually diagnosed in its advanced stages.

The OCRF strongly supports the development of a highly accurate, non-invasive and inexpensive early detection test that should then form part of every woman’s annual health check-up, like Cervical Cancer Screening Tests and mammograms.


Fewer than 30% of women diagnosed at a late stage will survive for more than five years

If a woman is diagnosed at Stage 1 (while the cancer is localised), then her survival rates are over 90%.

5-Year Survival Rates


The causes of ovarian cancer are unknown

Risk factors include age, reproductive history, having endometriosis, and lifestyle and hormonal factors.

Recent research suggests that many ovarian cancers start in the fallopian tubes. It should not be confused with cervical cancer which originates in the cervix.

The most common types of ovarian cancer are epithelial (arising in nine out of 10 cases), germ cell and stromal cell.

About 15–20% of women with ovarian cancer are found to have a fault in one of the BRCA genes or other similar genes.

Symptoms can be vague & the warning signs rarely set off alarm bells

Discomfort or pain in the abdomen or pelvis; feeling swollen or bloated; appetite loss or feeling full quickly; tiredness, and unexplained changes in weight, are often attributed to other gastrointestinal problems or common female complaints.

Both women and their doctors mistakenly attribute the symptoms to common female complaints, and delay taking further steps.

The same ovarian cancer drugs have been used since 1992

Regardless of tissue and genetic diversity of people with ovarian cancer, the majority of patients are treated similarly—this is why the OCRF has a focus on personalised treatment.

While there have been developments in ovarian cancer research, the same cannot be said for treatments.


General knowledge around ovarian cancer is low

More than 70% of Australians don’t know or incorrectly believe that the Human Papilloma Virus Vaccine (HPV) protects against ovarian cancer.

Nearly one in three Australians doesn’t know the difference between ovarian cancer and cervical cancer.

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