Ovarian Cancer and Coronavirus FAQS

Ask Eve has received a lot of questions from people currently receiving treatment for ovarian cancer who are worried about their risk of contracting coronavirus and what they should do to protect themselves. We have answered some of these key questions, if you have any further concerns, you can contact Ask Eve on nurse@eveappeal.org.uk. We will endeavour to update this page as and when new guidelines are put in place.

In the UK nearly 7,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. It is the sixth most common cancer among women after breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer, womb cancer and melanoma (a type of skin cancer).

Cancer of the ovary is most common in post -menopausal women, although it can affect women of any age. There are many types of ovarian cancer, with epithelial ovarian cancer being by far the most common form. Germ cell and stromal ovarian cancers are much less common.

Ovarian cancer symptoms – Key signs

If ovarian cancer symptoms are identified and the cancer diagnosed at an early stage, the outcome is more optimistic. However, because some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often the same as for other less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), it can be difficult to recognise the symptoms in the early stages – which is why most women are not diagnosed until the disease has spread.

However, there are four main ovarian cancer symptoms that are more prevalent in women diagnosed with the condition. They are:

  • Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
  • Unexplained change in bowel habits
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous

Other symptoms, such as back pain, needing to pass urine more frequently than usual, and pain during sex may be present in some women with the disease; however, it is most likely that these are not symptoms of ovarian cancer but may be the result of other conditions in the pelvic area.

If you have noticed any of the above key symptoms of ovarian cancer then do contact our nurse-led information service, Ask Eve for information and advice on nurse@eveappeal.org.uk or 0808 802 0019.

Q: I’m receiving chemotherapy as part of my ovarian cancer treatment, am I in a higher risk group?

A: The government has put together guidelines,  which you can read on gov.uk, and written to people who could be at extra risk if they contract Covid-19.

If you are receiving chemotherapy, you will be considered in this vulnerable group. This means you need to stay at home and avoid all face to face contact for 12 weeks, known as shielding.

Q: I’m on a PARP Inhibitor as part of my ovarian cancer treatment, am I in a higher risk group?

A: The government has put together guidelines, which you can read on gov.uk, and written to people who could be at extra risk if they contract Covid-19. PARP inhibitors are currently on the list of drugs (along with chemotherapy) that put people in the high-risk category. However NHSE are looking at this group of drugs again along with top experts in the field, The Eve Appeal and the ovarian cancer charities along with the British Gynaecological Cancer Society are involved in this discussion and we will update our website with information as it evolves.

If you are worried about what this means for you, you can contact Ask Eve on nurse@eveappeal.org.uk.