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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer AwarenessCANSA is a partner of the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition and annually on the 8th May, marks World Ovarian Cancer Day to help raise awareness of the disease, affecting many women in South Africa.

‘Ovarian cancer’ is not a singular diagnosis, rather it is an umbrella term for a multitude of different types of cancer that affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneal cavity.

It is estimated that there are more than 30 different types of ovarian cancer, and there is a very wide variation in incidence and outlook in terms of the different types.

Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of the female cancers for which there is no reliable screening test, and every person assigned female at birth is at risk.

With delays in diagnoses due to this lack of screening and because symptoms are often confused with other, less severe, illness, most people are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, making it more difficult to treat.

Five facts every woman should know (available in Afrikaans | isiXhosa | isiZulu and seSotho)

  1. A Pap test (cervical smear test) does not detect ovarian cancer
  2. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage
  3. Diagnosing ovarian cancer before it spreads makes it much more treatable
  4. Symptom awareness might lead to quicker diagnosis
  5. Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
    a. Persistent bloating
    b. Difficulty eating
    c. Feeling full quickly
    d. Pelvic/abdominal pain
    e. Urinary symptoms

See your family doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms and they last longer than 3 weeks. If you have a family history, speak with your doctor about genetic counseling.

Risk Factors

Risk Factors: English | Afrikaans | isiXhosa | isiZulu and seSotho


According to Globocan’s 2020 projections, by 2040, the number of women around the world diagnosed with ovarian cancer will rise almost 42% to 445,721. The number of women dying from ovarian cancer each year is projected to increase to 313,617 an increase of over 50% from 2020.

Five-year ovarian cancer survival rates vary between countries. For example, in more developed countries, current rates range from 36% to 46%. However, in some countries the figure is much lower. Overall, survival rates fall well below that for other cancers, like breast cancer, where five-year survival rates in many countries are close to 90%.

Ovarian cancer is a global concern and much more needs to be done to tackle this disease on all fronts.

About World Ovarian Cancer Day

The purpose of World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD) is to address this problem and to educate women and their communities about the risks, symptoms and screening of Ovarian Cancer.

The first WOCD was held in 2013. The genesis of the day was in 2009, when medical professionals got together for an international conference where they shared their experiences and struggles, while working with Ovarian Cancer patients.

How CANSA Helps

CANSA facilitates health programmes to educate women in local communities throughout SA, via our CANSA Care Centres, regarding cancers that are prevalent and in order to encourage awareness of symptoms and early detection.

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