There are no detectable early signs of ovarian cancer. The growth has to become quite large before it is detected, by which point the cancer is advanced. Later there may be abdominal pain, swelling or the presence of a hard lump. There may be frequent urination, occasional breathlessness, weight loss, constipation or vomiting. Some of these symptoms can be found as the result of other non-cancerous conditions, so don’t automatically jump to the worst conclusion if you are experiencing them.
Ovarian cancer is more frequent among women in their 60s, but can develop from the mid-30s onwards. There is probably a genetic component to the disease, those with a family history of ovarian or breast cancer seem to be more at risk. It also seems to affect more women who have never been pregnant and not used oral contraception.
There is no satisfactory general screening procedure as is routinely available for cervical cancer. However, those women with a family history of the disease might benefit from screening for the gene associated with increased risk. You should bring such a history to the attention of your doctor.
Given that pregnancy, the use of contraception or the use of hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT) seems to provide some level of long term protection against the disease, consideration might be given by your doctor to providing oral contraception or HRT as a preventative measure in such cases.
Where there is felt to be a high risk of developing the condition, consideration might be given to the removal of the ovaries as a preventative measure. This may be done when a women feels she does not wish to have any more children or following the menopause.