Ovarian Cancer

​Ovarian cancer is a cancer that begins in the two ovaries which are found on either side of the uterus. The ovaries are responsible for the production of eggs as well as the development of female hormones.  

There are three types of ovarian cancers based on the tissues where they are found:

  • Epithelial cell tumours: the most common form of ovarian cancer, this starts in cells that cover the ovaries.

  • Germ cell tumours: this starts in the cells responsible for developing the eggs in the ovary.

  • Stromal cell tumours: this starts in the cells responsible for developing the female hormones in the ovary.

​Risk factors typically associated with ovarian cancer are:

  • Aging more than 55 years

  • Having undergone hormone replacement therapy

  • Infertility or having undergone fertility treatment

  • Personal history of breast or ovarian cancer 

  • Family history of ovarian cancer

  • Smoking

  • Obesity

While early stage ovarian cancer has no symptoms, common symptoms for developed ovarian cancer are:

  • Swelling of abdomen

  • Loss of weight

  • Pain in the pelvis

  • Increased urination

  • Constipation or changes in bowel routine

  • Gas or indigestion

  • Loss of appetite​

You should seek immediate medical attention if you experience the above mentioned symptoms. Make an appointment with a doctor in the Women's Health Care Service Line at The Aga Khan University Hospital. You can also consult a specialist working with the Oncology Service Line at the Aga Khan University Hospital.

​Your time with your doctor maybe limited, so make sure to prepare for your visit beforehand. Here are some tips to help get you started.

Diagnosis of ovarian cancer may be done through the following procedures:

  • Physical examination of the genitals and vagina.

  • Ultrasound – this uses high-frequency sound waves in order to create an image of your ovaries. This can help to display the size and texture if your ovaries, or any cysts or swelling that may be present. 

  • Computerized Tomography (CT) scans – a pelvic or abdominal CT scan can help to determine the extent and spread of cancer in your body. 

  • Blood test – this can help to detect a certain protein (CA 125), which is found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells. 

  • Biopsy – this is when a sample of tissue is extracted from your ovaries for testing in the laboratory.

Based on the extent of the cancer as well as your overall health and medical history, you may undergo any of the following treatments:

  • Surgery – if the cancer is in its early stages, the doctors may only remove one ovary. However if it has progressed significantly, then both the ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, lymph nodes and surrounding tissue will have to be removed.

  • Chemotherapy – this treatment option uses anti-cancer drugs which are either injected into your veins or given orally. These drugs aim to kill cancer cells around your body. This is likely to be used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells in your body. ​

​The Aga Khan University Hospital offers various support services to help with managing or recovering from the disease or condition. These include but are not limited to nutrition, physiotherapy, rehabilitation, specialized clinics and some patient support groups. Your doctor or nurse will advise you accordingly.

The Aga Khan University Hospital offers financial assistance to those who are in need and fulfil the eligibility criteria. For further information, you can contact the Patient Welfare Department. You can find the contact number of the Patient Welfare Department in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

The financial counselling staff is available during office hours, at the main PBSD (Patient Business Services Department), to answer your financial queries on treatments’ costs and authorize admissions on partial deposit as per hospital policies allow. The financial counsellor in the emergency room is open 24/7. You can find the contact number of the Patient Business Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​Your doctor and or nurse will give you specific instructions about the prescribed medication. Please ensure that you take or use the prescribed medicine as advised. It can be dangerous to your health if you self-prescribe. Please inform the doctor or nurse beforehand if you have experienced any adverse reactions to any medications in the past. If you experience any symptoms of drug poisoning, overdose or severe reaction please contact the Pharmacy Service at The Aga Khan University Hospital immediately. You can find the contact number of the Pharmacy Services in the ‘Important Numbers’ section on the website homepage.

​​The information provided on our website is for educational purposes and not intended to be a substitute for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. You should always seek the advice of your doctor or other healthcare professional provider.