Ovarian cancer: overlooked and under-diagnosed

Ovarian cancer is Canada’s most fatal women’s cancer. Each year, approximately 2,600 women are diagnosed with the disease and about 1,750 women die of ovarian cancer. There is no screening test for the early detection of the disease. It is usually diagnosed in the late stages when five-year survival rates are less than 30 percent. 

“These facts are harsh but true,” says Karen Cinq Mars, Vice President, Marketing and Business Innovation for Ovarian Cancer Canada. “With no screening test, improving but still insufficient awareness and no cure, ovarian cancer is often overlooked and under-diagnosed. Our goal is to overcome ovarian cancer by supporting women and their families who are living with this disease; raising awareness among the public and health professionals; and funding research to develop reliable early detection techniques, improved treatments, and ultimately, a cure.” 

Ovarian Cancer Canada – the only registered charity in Canada solely dedicated to overcoming ovarian cancer – is committed to improving the odds of survival for the 17,000 women in the country who now live with this disease and for those who are still undiagnosed. 

“Our work is built around the four pillars of awareness, knowledge, support and research,” says Karen Cinq Mars. “We encourage women and their families to learn more about this disease; share their knowledge with their mothers, daughters, sisters, friends and colleagues; and help us spread the word and raise funds for our programs and for research.” 

Research is the only way to overcome ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Canada strives to increase funds available for ovarian cancer research and to increase the number of researchers working in this field.


 Ovarian cancer: what you need to know

The most common symptoms for ovarian cancer include:

  • bloating
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).

Other symptoms may include:

  • change in bowel habits
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • menstrual irregularities
  • weight loss or gain.

Symptoms are vague and can often mimic other conditions. See your family doctor if you have one or more of the symptoms above that are new and last longer than three weeks. If you are experiencing persistent symptoms, ask about a pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound and a CA-125 blood test.

If your doctor suspects ovarian cancer, or if testing is negative and your symptoms persist, ask for a referral to a gynecologic oncologist – a specialist in gynecologic cancers including ovarian cancer. To find one in your area, contact Ovarian Cancer Canada at 1-877-413-7970 or info@ovariancanada.org

If you are having gynecologic surgery, ask your doctor whether or not removal of the fallopian tubes would be beneficial to you. Recent research has found that a large proportion of ovarian cancers actually start in the fallopian tubes rather than on the ovaries.

A few other facts to remember: Ovarian cancer is most common among women after age 50 but it can occur in younger women. There is no effective screening test for the early detection of ovarian cancer. The Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer – it detects problems with the cervix. The HPV vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. If you have a family history of breast, ovarian or colon cancer, speak with your doctor about genetic counselling.

 ovariancanada.org – 1-877-413-7970 Like us on Facebook:  bit.ly/OvarianCanada   Follow us on Twitter:    twitter.com/OvarianCanada 

How to learn more because Knowledge is Power

Help increase awareness about this disease by hosting a free Ovarian Cancer: Knowledge is Power program in your community or workplace. Give our office a call to book a session.

You can also visit Ovarian Cancer Canada’s online interactive Knowledge Centre at ovarianknowledge.ca and share this site with your friends and family.

You Are Not Alone

This complimentary book/DVD set will help newly diagnosed women and their families throughout their ovarian cancer journeys. Order it by phone or online. People in need of support and information about ovarian cancer are invited to contact our office.

Survivors Teaching Students

This program brings the faces and voices of ovarian cancer survivors into the classrooms of medical and nursing students to increase their knowledge of the disease and to share firsthand experiences of dealing with a devastating diagnosis.

Continuing Education

Ovarian Cancer Canada offers an online ovarian cancer Continuing Medical Education (CME) program through Memorial University and is expanding a workshop-based accredited CME for family physicians and nurse practitioners. The charity also partners with the Society of Gynecologic Oncology of Canada to provide Trainee Awards to graduate students and postdoctoral fellows engaged in ovarian cancer research.

Ovarian cancer news

Call Ovarian Cancer Canada or sign up for the charity’s e-newsletter by visiting our website.

Get involved in a great cause!

 There are many ways to get involved with Ovarian Cancer Canada and to help overcome this most fatal women’s cancer.

  • Join our volunteer ranks – visit our website for information on volunteer opportunities.
  • Create a team of friends, family and colleagues and participate in the Ovarian Cancer Canada Walk of Hope this September in Toronto (Sept. 8 – Woodbine Park), Aurora, Ajax and other surrounding communities. Register today and find a Walk location near you at ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca 
  • Sign up for the experience of a lifetime – join the Expedition of Hope and climb Mount Kilimanjaro in support of Ovarian Cancer Canada later this September (expeditionofhope.ca). 
  • Just 2.1 percent of Canadian cancer donations are directed at ovarian cancer. Help change that by making a donation, becoming a monthly donor or designating a gift to Ovarian Cancer Canada in your will. You can even host your own event in your community to raise awareness of ovarian cancer and funds in support of the work of Ovarian Cancer Canada.

Walk pic Toronto  Family Walk


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