Dialog Box


FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

How can we help you? Below you'll find answers to the questions we get asked the most about ovarian cancer.

Learn about Ovarian Cancer


What is the role of the ovaries in our body? 

The ovaries are two small almond shaped organs that are part of the female reproductive system. They are situated in the pelvic area, with one each side of the uterus (organ where a foetus grows). The ovaries make eggs and female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) which regulate your menstrual cycle and affect the development of female body characteristics such as breasts and body hair.

Other parts of the female reproductive system include the fallopian tubes, cervix and vagina. The fallopian tubes are a pair of tubes through which eggs travel from the ovaries to the uterus. 

What is ovarian cancer? 

Ovarian cancer is a general term used to describe a cancerous (malignant) tumour starting in one or both ovaries. The ovaries are made up of three main kinds of cells:

  • epithelial cells
  • stromal cells
  • germ cells.

Each of these cells can develop into a different type of tumour. The average age of women when they are diagnosed with ovarian cancer is age 64. It is mainly diagnosed in women over the age of 50; however, there are cases diagnosed in younger women. Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer in Australia. About 1532 Australian women are diagnosed each year.

What is the difference between ovarian cancer and an ovarian cyst? 

Ovarian cysts are fluid filled sacs that develop on one or both ovaries. Ovarian cysts are common in women during their reproductive years. Most ovarian cysts cause little or no pain and are harmless. Most of them will disappear without treatment within a few months. However, some ovarian cysts can cause serious symptoms (especially if they burst). It is important to see your doctor if you have any pelvic symptoms you are concerned about.

What is the difference between fallopian tube cancer, peritoneal cancer and ovarian cancer?

Sometimes cancer is found in the fallopian tubes (the pair of tubes along which eggs travel from the ovaries to the uterus). It is rare for cancer to spread from another part of the body to the fallopian tubes, but does spread to the ovaries. Cancer can also arise from the ovaries themselves. Peritoneal cancer develops in the peritoneum. This is the lining that covers the surface of the ovaries and other organs in the abdominal cavity. Although these cancers differ in where they start and are different in other ways, the treatment for fallopian tube, peritoneal and ovarian cancer are usually the same.

What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer? 

Symptoms for ovarian cancer can be vague and often difficult to diagnosis. It is very important you see your GP if you have any of the symptoms listed below that persist. Whilst many of these symptoms can be caused by other much less serious medical conditions, it is best to get checked. The earlier a cancer is found the more success there will be in treating it. The most commonly reported symptoms for ovarian cancer are:

  • Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
  • Abdominal or pelvic (lower tummy) pain
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount
  • Needing to urinate often or urgently

Additional Symptoms may include:

  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Unexplained weight gain or loss
  • Excessive fatigue
  • Lower back pain
  • Indigestion or nausea
  • Bleeding after menopause or in-between periods
  • Pain during sex or bleeding after

If you are not comfortable with your doctor’s diagnosis or you are still concerned about unexplained persistent symptoms, you should seek a second opinion.

You know your body better than anyone else, so always listen to what your body is saying and trust your instincts.

Track your symptoms and take this record with you to your doctor. You can also download our symptoms infographic.

What are the risks and causes of ovarian cancer? 

We don’t know the exact causes of most ovarian cancers. However, we do know there are factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Getting older is the biggest risk factor for developing ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer can happen at any age, but it is usually in women who have been through menopause, with the average age of diagnosis being age 64.

Hereditary factors account for approximately 20% of ovarian cancers. Women with certain genetic mutations, such as BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 are at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer that women who don’t carry these genes. Lynch Syndrome, which refers to a cluster of cancers that are related to another specific gene mutation associated with increased risk of ovarian, colorectal and uterine cancers.

Other factors that may increase the risk of ovarian cancer include:

  • having endometriosis
  • a previous breast cancer
  • having diabetes
  • use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) (this applies to some ovarian cancer types)
  • being overweight
  • smoking, which may slightly increase the risk of developing mucinous ovarian cancer
  • not having had children – women who have not had children are at a slightly higher risk.

If you are concerned about your risk, talk to your doctor about ovarian cancer prevention and genetic testing. Watch our webinar on family history and genetic testing.

How can I reduce my risk of ovarian cancer? 

There is no way of preventing ovarian cancer but several ways have been found which can help to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer:

  • surgical removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes
  • having children and breastfeeding
  • using oral contraceptives (reduces risk by 50% if taken for over 5 years).

But these methods are not suitable for all women, and many women having adopted protective measures may still develop ovarian cancer. It is important to discuss your risk, and appropriate management, with your doctor.

Is there an association between hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and ovarian cancer? 

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) is a treatment used to help reduce the symptoms of menopause. It does this by changing the levels of hormones in the body which are chemical messengers within different organs in the body that affect things like fertility, growth and our mood. During menopause the levels of a woman’s sex hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) in her body decrease causing side effects such as vaginal dryness, hot flushes, low mood and a loss of desire to want sex (libido). Many women find these symptoms distressing and challenging to cope with.

Research has shown that taking HRT (oestrogen and combined HRT) can increase your risk of developing certain types of cancers, including ovarian cancer. But the risk is small. And when you stop taking it, your risk will begin to go back to what it would have been if you never had taken HRT. For some women the benefits of taking HRT will outweigh any risk factors.

It is important you speak with your doctor if you are thinking about taking HRT during or after your ovarian cancer and its treatment.

Do fertility drugs increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer? 

Research has shown that overall taking fertility drugs does not increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, some scientists have found that there is some link between developing ovarian cancer and some causes of infertility such as endometriosis.  Never having had children has also shown to slightly increase risk. 

Does talcum powder cause ovarian cancer? 

Several studies have looked at a possible link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. And especially for women who use it on their genitals. But there isn’t strong enough evidence to prove this but research continues. For more information read the Cancer Council statement on this topic. 

Genetic testing and hereditary factors

If a family member has ovarian cancer, can I get genetic testing to find out if myself and other family members will get this type of cancer? 

Yes, if you have family members with, or have had ovarian cancer, you can get genetic testing for yourself and the rest of the family. About two in ten women (20%) diagnosed with ovarian cancer is due to hereditary factors.

The first step would be to discuss your family history with your GP and/or medical oncologist, and they will be able to assess whether or not you need a referral to a familial cancer centre. Some centres don't require referrals and will accept direct appointments. Visits are free and confidential. Interpreters are available if needed. You can search for a family cancer centre near you.

You may also find it helpful to read out booklet, ‘Genetic Testing and Hereditary Ovarian Cancer: A guide for women with ovarian cancer and their families’.

I have risk factors for ovarian cancer. Should I have preventative surgery? 

This is a complex question and we would advise that if you think you are at risk of developing ovarian cancer you need to discuss your individual situation with a gynaecological oncologist. They can help you decide if prophylactic (preventative) surgery to remove your ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes is an appropriate option . For more information about preventative surgery please download our booklet entitled ‘Genetic Testing and Hereditary Ovarian Cancer: A guide for women with ovarian cancer and their families

You may also find this booklet useful too.

Diagnosing ovarian cancer

Is there a screening test for ovarian cancer? 

Screening means testing healthy people to find a disease in its early stages. People being screened usually have no signs of the disease. For cancer screening to be effective there must be an accurate test that can pick up early stage cancer when treatment is more likely to cure the cancer. It is important the test does not give a positive result in people who do not have cancer (false positive).

At present there is no reliable population screening test for early ovarian cancer. Research is underway to try and develop better screening tests in order to detect ovarian cancer at earlier stages and improve patient outcomes.

The following tests have been assessed but have not been shown to be foolproof as population screening tests:

  • CA125 blood test
  • transvaginal ultrasound

NB: It is important to note that a Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer; it is only used to screen for cervical cancer.

What is the CA125 blood test?

The CA125 test is used to measure the CA125 protein in the blood. The level of CA125 increases in about 50% of women with early stage ovarian cancer and 90% of women with an advanced stage of ovarian, fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer. Women with symptoms associated with ovarian cancer should see their GP, who may suggest having a CA125

CA125 stands for ‘cancer antigen 125’. It is called a ‘tumour marker’. Women with ovarian cancer often have their CA125 measured throughout the different stages of their diagnosis, treatment and after treatment. This test cannot be used to diagnose ovarian cancer. For more information about the CA125 blood test go to our website and read our CA 125 factsheet.

Does an elevated CA125 always mean ovarian cancer is present?

No it doesn’t. However a CA-125 blood test is one of several tools/tests that can be used to help diagnose ovarian cancer in conjunction with symptoms and imaging . Whilst it is not uncommon for a woman with ovarian cancer to have a raised CA-125 count, it can also be raised in pre-menopausal women due to other less serious conditions that ovarian cancer including endometriosis, liver disease and pregnancy .

One of the most important uses of the CA-125 blood test for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is to detect if their cancer is progressing as well as how well the cancer is responding to treatment.  And it is helpful in monitoring the levels of women in remission to indicate any disease recurrence.

Can a transvaginal ultrasound diagnose ovarian cancer? 

A transvaginal ultrasound is done by inserting an ultrasound probe into the vagina.  It should not be painful but can feel uncomfortable. It is not an accurate way of diagnosing ovarian cancer as it is not easy to always tell the difference between a harmless cyst on the ovaries and a malignant tumour.

If there are no reliable screening tools for ovarian cancer, how is it diagnosed? 

The only way to reliably diagnose ovarian cancer is to get a tissue sample (biopsy) of the suspected cancer. This can be done with an image guided biopsy, where they put a needle into the area under ultrasound or CT guidance. Sometimes this is not possible, and you need to undergo surgery with either a laparoscopy or laparotomy to get a sample. This is required for a definitive diagnosis of ovarian cancer. However, other tests and procedures can also help doctors suspect an ovarian cancer diagnosis such as the CA 125 test and Transvaginal ultrasound.

Treatment for ovarian cancer

What are the main types of treatment for ovarian cancer? 

Every woman with ovarian cancer will have an individual treatment plan. Your plan will depend on the type and stage of ovarian cancer you have and your general health, and may include other personal factors such as whether you want to have children in the future.

Most women with ovarian cancer will need surgery (including fallopian tube or primary peritoneal cancer). However, the timing, type and amount of surgery you need will depend on the stage of your cancer. Surgery alone is usually the only treatment necessary for early stage ovarian cancers.

If your cancer is more advanced you are likely to be offered chemotherapy as well as surgery. You may have the chemotherapy before the surgery to help shrink the size of the tumour or afterwards to help stop the cancer coming back. Some women may have chemotherapy before and after surgery. It will all depend on the type and stage of your cancer.

Other treatments that are used to help treat ovarian cancer are radiotherapy and biological therapies.

For more detailed information about all these types of treatment for ovarian cancer and its different stages download our Resilience Kit from our website.

It is important to know not all women will have the same treatment for their ovarian cancer. Your doctor will work out your treatment based on the stage and grade of your cancer as well as what is best for you.

What type of doctor should I see if I think I may have ovarian cancer? 

If you are having symptoms of ovarian cancer and/or your GP suspects you may have ovarian cancer you will need to be referred to a gynaecological oncologist. This is a specialist in treating women with cancers of the female reproductive system. They are trained to carry out surgical procedures associated with ovarian cancer treatment, as well as manage other treatments such as chemotherapy and hormone therapy in conjunction with medical oncologists. 

It is important to note that there are strict guidelines for women and GP’s about treating women with suspected ovarian cancer. These are called the Optimal Care Pathway for women with ovarian cancer.  

Who should perform the surgery for my ovarian cancer?

A gynaecological oncologist is the best qualified doctor to perform your surgery. This is an obstetrician gynaecologist who has further specialised training in treating women who need advanced type abdominal/pelvic surgery and women with gynaecologic cancers including ovarian cancer. There is clear research showing that women survive longer when their initial surgery is done by a gynaecological oncologist. This initial surgery and staging of your ovarian cancer is very important to help determine the best treatment and survival outcomes for you.

Guidelines recommend your gynaecological oncologist work as part of a multidisciplinary team. To find a list of these specialists please see Canrefer website.

Your overall treatment will be managed by a team of cancer healthcare professionals, the multidisciplinary team. Each team member will have specialised skills to provide you with the best possible care during and after your treatment. If you live in a rural or regional area, you may need to access visiting health professionals or access advice through linked phone and internet services. Many rural centres also have links to the centralised multidisciplinary meetings.

How does the drug olaparib (Lynparza) help women with ovarian cancer? 

Olaparib (also known as its brand name 'Lynparza') is a treatment sometimes used for some women with ovarian, fallopian tube and peritoneal cancer. It is for women who have a change in a gene called BRCA. There are a few reasons why your specialist cancer doctor may suggest you have treatment with olaparib. Your doctor may suggest olaparib if:

  • your cancer has come back (relapsed) after previously having a type of chemotherapy called platinum chemotherapy.
  • As a maintenance treatment after chemotherapy if your cancer has already responded well to platinum chemotherapy.

Maintenance treatment aims to stop cancer from coming back or continuing to grow for as long as possible. This drug may not be suitable for everyone and your specialist doctor is the best person to ask about this. If you are interested in accessing this drug it is best you discuss this with your treating oncologist who can advise if it is suitable for your particular clinical situation.

If you want some information on PARP inhibitor drugs, you can listen to our webinar 'Latest Developments into Ovarian Cancer' which highlights one woman’s experience using this drug.

Health Direct Australia website has more information about olaparib and its possible side effects.

How does the drug niraparib help women with ovarian cancer? 

Niraparib (also known by its brand name ‘Zejula’) is a type of biological therapy drug called a PARP-1 inhibitor. PARP is short for Poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase. Biological therapies can be used in cancer treatment to stimulate or suppress the immune system to help the body fight the cancer. PARP is a protein that helps damaged cells to repair themselves. Niraparib stops PARP working. Therefore causing cell death.

Whilst Niraparib has been approved by TGA (Therapeutic Goods Administration) for both BRCA positive and BRCA negative patients, the PBS (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) will only be subsidising Niraparib for those with a BRCA mutation moving forward.

If you think you or someone close to you may benefit from having the drug Niraparib, we recommend speaking with your cancer specialist. They will know the individual situation the best and be able to guide you in the most appropriate way, including explaining the possible side effects of the drug.

Health Direct Australia website has more information about niraparib and its possible side effects.

How is the drug MVASI (Bevacizumab, biosimilar) used to treat ovarian cancer? 

MVASI (pronounced (em vah' see), also known as bevacizumab, is one of several drugs used to successfully treat many women with ovarian cancer. In this case MVASI is biosimilar to a previously used drug called Avastin. Avastin has been replaced with MVASI. Biosimilar drugs are drugs which are chemically identical to an original branded drug. MVASI (bevacizumab) is a targeted therapy that blocks the protein VEGF. VEGF plays a key role in the development of new blood vessels. By blocking VEGF, MVASI may block the blood supply that feeds the ovarian cancer cells/tumour and prevent the formation of new blood vessels which will stop the cancer from growing and spreading.

MVASI is currently being used for women with epithelial, fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer. But it is not suitable for ALL women with these types of ovarian cancer. It is only indicated to be used for some women with a stage 3 or 4 cancer, as a first line treatment or for women who are having a recurrence of their ovarian cancer. MVASI is used in combination with other drugs (e.g. chemotherapy).

All drugs have possible side effects, but that does mean you will get them all. Your doctors and nurses will be able to give you more information about the correct dosages, administration and side effects of MSAVI. If you are not suitable for MVASI your doctor will be able to advise you about other possible treatments and/or clinical trials that may help your situation.

For detailed information on MVASI and its side effects read Health Direct Australia website.

Side effects from treatment

What is the best way to cope with an early menopause after my surgery?  

Menopause is a natural event that usually happens around the age of 50. However, surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy for ovarian cancer can cause ‘early menopause’ in women who have not yet reached menopause. Early menopause from cancer treatment is different to the gradual transition that usually happens with a natural menopause. The sudden drop in hormones after early menopause triggers physical and emotional changes that may impact a woman’s health and wellbeing. These changes are different for everyone: some women may not have troublesome symptoms at all, while for others, symptoms can greatly affect their day to day life. Some of the most common and troublesome symptoms women report are:

  • hot flushes and sweats
  • sleep disturbances (insomnia)
  • vaginal dryness
  • lowered libido (sex drive)
  • changes in mood (sadness, depression and anxiety)

Coping with these changes can be very challenging and many women find they need to seek further support. While there are limited treatment options for the symptoms of early menopause, there are lots of practical things you can do to help manage them. These include managing your diet, exercise and general health as best you can. Sometimes medication with hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can also help. But this may not be suitable for all women so it is important to discuss this with your specialist cancer doctor first.

To find more tips on coping with an early menopause after ovarian cancer treatment you can download our ‘Early Menopause from Ovarian Cancer’ factsheet.

Will ovarian cancer and its treatment affect my ability to have children? 

Some cancer treatments can affect a woman’s ability to have a child (her fertility).  If you have to have surgery to remove your ovaries you won’t be able to have children. Chemotherapy can also affect your fertility as it can cause damage to the eggs necessary for reproduction. If you wish to have children now or think you might in the future, it is very important to talk to your team of specialists before your treatment begins. They can discuss possible options for preserving your fertility such as fertility sparing surgery or retrieving and freezing your eggs prior to treatment[as1] . This won’t be possible for all women but it may be an option with certain types of ovarian cancer. 

Finding out you can no longer have children can come as a huge shock to a woman. Most women find it very difficult to accept and seek help and support from a professional counsellor. You can ask your specialist doctor or GP to make a referral for you to a counsellor. 

  • Read the Cancer Council’s Fertility and cancer: A guide for people with cancer (or call 13 11 20 for a free copy).
  • Access Australia (www.access.org.au or 1800 888 896) is a non-profit organisation providing information on infertility and access to a national network of infertility counsellors.
    
How will my sexuality be affected by having ovarian cancer and its treatment?  

Your sexuality is such an important part of who you are. It is about your self-image, how you express yourself sexually, and your sexual feelings for other people.  It is not just about having sex.  

Ovarian cancer and its treatment can profoundly affect the way you feel about yourself and your body, sexual desires and your intimate relationships with others, whether or not you have a partner or not.  Surgery to remove ovaries can result in an early menopause which will cause hormonal changes which may lower your libido (desire to have sex), and cause other symptoms such as vaginal dryness.  

Feeling generally unwell due to your cancer and the side effects of treatment such as fatigue, nausea, mood changes can also affect your ability and desire to be intimate or have sexual relationships.  Body changes, scarring, hair loss and other physical changes may make you feel less attractive.  

Understanding the changes to your body and how this may affect your relationships is important. Finding ways to communicate in relationships and find ways to help ease your anxiety is likely to make you feel better. Planning intimate times when you have the most energy can be helpful. And remembering there are many ways to be intimate other than having sex. For example, cuddling, chatting, massage and kissing can be satisfying additions and/or alternatives to sex. You can also speak with your doctor about how you are feeling and they may suggest hormonal replacement therapy medication to help improve libido. But this is not suitable for all women so it is important to ask your specialist doctor about this.   

My hands and feet have become numb since I started chemotherapy. Why is this happening?  

Peripheral neuropathy is the result of damage to the nerves outside of the brain and spinal cord (peripheral nerves). It can be a side effect of certain chemotherapy drugs (e.g. carboplatin and paclitaxel) and these drugs can damage nerves that affect the feeling and movement in your hands and feet. The most common symptoms of peripheral neuropathy include: 

  • tingling, burning, numbness or pain in the hands or feet 

  • loss of feeling especially in the hands and feet 

  • muscle  weakness 

  • problems with balance or walking, and clumsiness 

  • constipation 

  • feeling light headed or dizzy 

The symptoms of peripheral neuropathy can be mild, and will usually go away once treatment has stopped. But for some women they can be severe and last longer. For example, it can be very difficult to do simple tasks like doing up buttons or tie shoelaces. You may also be very sensitive to hot and cold and need to take great care when handling hot things as you may not feel it if something is burning.  

Peripheral neuropathy can be challenging to cope with and unfortunately there is no treatment to improve the nerve damage. However, there are ways to help reduce the impact of the problem. Sometimes drugs used to treat other medical conditions have been found to help with treating nerve pain. One example of this is the antidepressant Duloxetine (Cymbalta).  Anti-inflammatory drugs and other pain killers such as gabapentin and pregabalin (Lyrica) can also help with nerve pain. 

There is also research going on around the world that suggest the following treatments may also help in preventing or controlling neuropathy related to chemotherapy.  

  • Vitamin B6 

  • Calcium and magnesium 

  • Glutathione, a vitamin rich in anti -oxidants 

Please talk to your doctor if you are wishing to explore any of these options. The most important tip is to tell your doctor as soon as you have any symptoms. 

Other ways known to help reduce peripheral neuropathy are: 

  • Exercise – which can help strengthen muscles, reduce pain and cramps and improve balance and circulation. 

  • Mindfulness and meditation – may assist in drawing attention away from painful symptoms. 

  • Ensure that you wear comfortable and supportive shoes that do not cramp/confine your toes.  

  • Keeping hands and feet warm: many women report this can be helpful. 

I am having problems with urinary incontinence since my surgery. What can I do to help with this?    

Managing day to day life with incontinence (urinary or bowel) can be challenging and even more so if you are also trying to cope with a diagnosis of ovarian cancer and its treatment. Many women say they become frustrated, anxious and fearful about going out.  However, with some planning ahead, incontinence does not always need to stop you trying to live a full life. A big part of achieving this is having a 'routine'.  For example, if you are going out, know how long you are going to be out and where the nearest toilets are on your journey. Bring enough continence pads with you for the time you are out.  

It is important if you are having problems with incontinence that you see your GP for advice/support. Ask for a referral to a continence nurse at your treating hospital (if there is one there). For further information and support you can contact the National Continence Helpline which is staffed by a team of continence nurse advisers and is available to anyone in Australia. They can provide information on incontinence issues, advise of which products to use and of different financial assistance schemes that you might be eligible for to help pay for your continence products. It operates from 8am to 8pm (AEST) Monday to Friday Ph: 1800 330 066. 

Your local pharmacy can also order certain incontinence pads for you.  

After treatment finishes

Will my cancer come back (recur)? 

This is a common question women ask once their treatment finishes. If you are having thoughts about your cancer coming back it is known as a "fear of recurrence". Having these fears is a natural and expected reaction after going through a cancer diagnosis and its treatment.  

Knowing how likely it is that your cancer will come back depends on several factors including the type, stage and grade of your original cancer. It also depends on which treatments you have already had.  But the important thing is to speak with your GP or specialist doctor if you develop any symptoms. It is important to know that developing symptoms does not always mean your cancer has come back, but investigating symptoms sooner rather than later is always better.  

Ovarian Cancer Australia have a booklet entitled: "Fear of recurrence: A guide for women with ovarian cancer and their families”. You can order or hard copy or download a copy of this booklet from our website. There is also a webinar on our website about Fear of Recurrence that you may also find helpful to watch.

My cancer has come back and I want to know what this means?    

Finding out your cancer has returned causes most women and those close to them to feel shocked, low in mood and upset. Having already gone through a cancer diagnosis and its treatment in the past, you are likely to wonder what having a recurrence will mean and if there is treatment that can help you. Having a recurrence of your cancer can mean the cancer has come back: 

  • in the same place it began (local recurrence) 

  • in the lymph nodes near to where it began (regional recurrence) 

  • in another area of the body some distance from the original cancer/tumour (distant recurrence/metastasis). The most common place for ovarian cancer to spread to is the lungs, bowel or liver. 

There is usually treatment to help most women who get a recurrence of their ovarian cancer. This may be treatment either with one or more of the following: 

  • Surgery 

  • Chemotherapy 

  • Parp inhibitors 

  • Biological therapies (immunotherapy) 

  • Radiotherapy 

Speak with your specialist doctor about which treatment is most suitable for your specific type of cancer and its recurrence. They may suggest you take part in a clinical trial. You can read more about trials on our website

Support for ovarian cancer

What type of support is available for women with ovarian cancer?   

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer usually leaves you, your family and friends with many unanswered questions. Ovarian Cancer Australia has a range of support resources to empower you with the information you need, answer many of your questions, and provide you with links to other sources of information and to a wider support community. To find out about all the support networks Ovarian Cancer Australia offers, click here. Explore from here the following support services and so much more:  

  • Support resources and factsheets

  • Support groups. Evidence shows that people who join a group suffer less anxiety, feel less isolated and are better able to cope with cancer and its side effects. 

  • Support for younger women. Ovarian cancer is more common in older women, which can mean younger women may feel isolated and feel their specific needs and concerns are not being addressed. This page will provide you with information and links to other services available to you. 

  • Get your own ovarian cancer nurse

  • Male Partners Program. The Male Partners Program is a support program aimed at supporting partners of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. 

  • Family and friends booklet.This booklet provides helpful, practical advice for partners, family and friends and includes personal insights from women living with ovarian cancer. Download the booklet here or contact us and we will send you a copy. 

  • OCA Connect.The Ovarian Cancer Australia Connect online forum gives you access to a community of compassionate and supportive women who have been affected by ovarian cancer. The forum aims to be informative, non-judgemental and above all supportive to your needs. 

For further information and support contact one of our nurses on the Ovarian Cancer Australia Helpline, 1300 660 334, available Monday to Friday, 9am – 5pm (AEST/AEDT) for the cost of a local call or email support@ovariancancer.net.au. 

I am a carer of someone with ovarian cancer and finding it challenging at times. Where can I get help?

Caring for someone with cancer can be very rewarding but many carers also say they find it difficult and stressful at times. You may feel very tired and overwhelmed at times. This is very natural and it is important you acknowledge your feelings and know there is a lot of support for carers of women with ovarian cancer. Seeking support will allow you to care for the person close to you in the best possible way.  

We hope the resources below can help you to look after your own health and wellbeing, which in turn will allow you to care for the person close to you in the best possible way.  

The Cancer Council offer online, face to face and tele support groups which can offer a valuable opportunity to share experiences and ways of coping. Call them on 13 11 20 or find out more about their services on their website.  

    
I would like to talk with a professional counsellor but I don’t know how to find one. Can you help? 

Ovarian cancer can result in many losses in your life which often causes a wide range of emotions including sadness, loss, anxiety, fear and depression.  These feelings may be temporary, but for some women the feelings can linger and cause other more serious long term concerns. Talking to a professional counsellor can be helpful during and after your cancer treatment. There are several ways you can gain access to a counsellor which are outlined below.   

  • OCA have professional counsellors you can connect with. Call our Helpline on 1300 660 334.  

  • Alternatively, you can speak to your GP who will be able to refer you to a counsellor.  

  • You may also call the Cancer Council on 13 11 20 to ask about their counselling service. 

  • To find a psychologist see the Australian Psychological Society website  

Sometimes having ovarian cancer and its treatment can put a strain on relationships. If you feel you or your partner need help in this area you can contact Relationships Australia (or call 1300 364 277) for relationship support and services.  

If you think you are depressed or having suicidal thoughts please seek medical help immediately through your GP or go to your nearest emergency department. You can also contact: 

  • Lifeline provides 24 hour crisis support their number is: 13 11 14.  

  • Beyond Blue has Information on a wide variety of mental health problems for sufferers, carers and professionals: 1300 224 636. 

What are the best ways to talk to my children about my ovarian cancer?    

Speaking to children and informing them that you or a loved one has cancer can be very stressful. It is always best to be as honest as you can with your child, but also ensuring what you tell them is age appropriate. This is not always easy as each child is an individual and will deal with things in their own way.  Many people with cancer who have children say it helps to seek professional help and support when working out the best way to support your children. The following links may be helpful when talking to children about cancer:  

  • The Cancer Council booklet titled: “Talking to kids about cancer”  

  • CanTeen is an organisation offering information and support services for children dealing with a close family member’s cancer.   

  • CanTeen Connect is an online community for parents and can connect parents affected by cancer.

Why should I have an advanced care plan (ACP)?     

Advance Care Planning is when you talk about and plan for your future. It is about recording/documenting your personal values and wishes to do with your health, medical and personal care. Doing this allows close family, friends, carers and medical staff to know what your beliefs, preferences and instructions are for your ongoing and future care. Documenting these preferences will give you peace of mind that what you want and how you prefer things to happen will happen. It helps you receive the care you wish to receive. 

Advanced Care Plans can be made at any stage in your life. Some people make them when they are feeling well, whilst others may wait until they are sick before deciding to document their wishes. It is particularly important though for those who are elderly or have a terminal illness to document their desires in an ACP. For more detailed information about Advance Care Planning (ACP) go to the Advance Care Planning Australia website. From this website you can download ACP forms for each specific state and territory. You can also call them for advice on 1300 208 582. 



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