Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month Q&A
For Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Michelle Lockley from the Barts Cancer Institute answers questions about ovarian cancer.
Dr Michelle Lockley Honorary Consultant Oncology at the Barts Cancer Institute
Dr Michelle Lockley, Honorary Consultant Medical Oncology at Barts Cancer Institute
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: What You Need to Know

According to Cancer Research UK, around 7,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year. Ovarian cancer ranks sixth as the most common cancer among women, causing more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. 

For Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we’ve asked Dr Michelle Lockley from Barts Cancer Institute at Queen Mary University of London to answer some pressing questions about ovarian cancer. Here’s what Dr Lockley had to say: 

Q: Is there an ovarian cancer screening test?

At the current time, there is no ovarian cancer screening test that has been proven to be effective. Ovarian cancer is often described as a ‘hidden’ cancer because many women do not experience symptoms until the disease has already spread within the body. We think that we would be able to improve survival if we could detect these cancers before they have spread. There is a great deal of research activity trying to find ways to detect these cancers earlier.  

Q: Can I reduce my risk of ovarian cancer? 

As far as we know, there is very little that women can practically do to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer. The most common symptoms that women experience are abdominal bloating and discomfort and a change in bowel habit. It is definitely worthwhile being attentive to these types of symptoms and seeking medical advice as early as possible.  

Q: Is ovarian cancer hereditary? 

It can be in a minority of cases and the most well characterised mutations that cause ovarian cancer are in BRCA1 and 2, which many people have now heard of. These genes can be passed to a woman by either her mother or her father and they significantly increase the risk of ovarian, breast and other cancers. In families that are known to have these mutations, women will be offered screening and risk-reducing surgery. So this is an example of how certain women can prevent ovarian cancer from occurring. 

Q: Are there different types of ovarian cancer? 

There are many different types of ovarian cancer to the extent that they should be thought of as distinct diseases. As we learn more about these subtypes, we have got better at devising individual treatments for these diverse cancers. In this article I have really been referring to high grade epithelial cancers, which are the most common and most websites and literature tend to focus on this type as well. It is important to emphasise that the different ovarian cancers each have their own behaviour, treatment and outcome so it is not the case that ‘one size fits all’. Health care teams will be able to provide personalised information about each patient’s own cancer and treatment. 

Q: Are there any clinical trials for ovarian cancer? 

Yes! There are a great many clinical trials for ovarian and other cancers. This is the way that we are able to make new treatments available for cancer patients. The major success story in ovarian cancer treatment in recent years has been PARP inhibitors. We are now able to prescribe these effective new tablets to NHS patients and this would not have been possible without clinical trials and the very large number of patients who participated. Clinical trials have specific entry requirements and so cancer doctors will usually signpost trials to their patients. Cancer patients should definitely discuss this clinical trials with their doctors if it is something they may be interested in exploring though. 

Q: How is ovarian cancer diagnosed? 

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed after a woman has told their doctor about their symptoms. This will usually lead to blood tests, particularly to look for tumour markers, the most common of which is CA125. There will also be scans, which might include an ultrasound scan or an MRI. There will almost certainly be a CT scan, which helps us to see how far the cancer has spread. This final diagnosis is made by looking at a sample of the cancer under a microscope, which enables us to say what particular type of cancer each patient has. Not everyone will have all of these tests though. Teams of healthcare professionals in specialist hospitals will review everything at each stage and advise on what is needed for each individual patient. 

Q: What is the treatment for ovarian cancer? 

This is a big question because of the different subtypes of ovarian cancer and of course because every woman is different. In general though, it is a combination of surgery and chemotherapy drugs. These days, many patients will be able to have some form of maintenance treatment once they have completed their chemotherapy and increasingly this is with PARP inhibitor tablets, which can continue for many years. Where possible and relevant, we will always try to include patients in clinical trials so that we can continue to improve our knowledge and prolong survival for women with this diverse group of diseases. 

Barts Charity awarded Dr Lockley approximately £500,000 to investigate a new personalised adaptive therapy treatment approach for ovarian cancer that has returned after previous chemotherapy.

You might also like

2016, TAG Heuer Marking Heuer Aquaracer collection Reloaded, launched a new Aquaracer Aquaracer timepieces, to further enhance their natural overall richard mille replica performance and design. Scenario extended from the earlier 41-43 mm. Clay bezel re-designed etched sterling silver coloring stats, its date window zoomed present (re-introduced recently, to adhere to this season), preparing the actual sophisticated persona. The new situation is equipped Calibre A few Programmed activity, for your watch provides established reliability.

Royal Parks Half Marathon - Charity place registration

Thank you for registering for one of our charity places – and welcome to the Barts Charity team!

By submitting this form you are agreeing for us to contact you with race-day information, training and fundraising tips in relation to the Royal Parks Half Marathon 2022. This may include email, phone call or text message. You can of course update your preferences at any time, and we will fully respect your wishes (see below for more information).

Application information

*¹Please note we will do our best to match your wishes to the most relevant fund, but we cannot guarantee that sponsorship will be used to fund specific items

We may take photos on the day at the event, which could be used in Barts Charity communications and marketing activity, including but not limited to our website, social media, digital or printed materials, and press. If you are not happy for your image to be used in this way, please contact us on the details below. You can change how you hear from us at any time – contact hello@bartscharity.org.uk, or call 020 7618 1720. We collect and process your data to administer our Royal Parks Half Marathon 2022 places and to send you updates. For more information about how we use and protect the information you’re kindly sharing with us, see our privacy policy.

Hospital staff holding sign that says 'Thank you!'
Your're signed up!

Thanks – look in your inbox soon for updates on our work and how your support is making the difference.

Hospital staff holding sign that says 'Thank you!'
Thank you for registering your details, we will get back to you soon.

If you have any queries in the mean time please email: hello@bartscharity.org.uk 

Hospital staff holding sign that says 'Thank you!'
Thank you for subscribing!

We’ll send our latest news straight to your inbox each month, keeping you up-to-date with how your support is helping more people across our community and beyond receive extraordinary healthcare. In the meantime you may like to find out how you can get involved to help change lives, or to read our latest news.

Let us know at anytime if you have any questions or would like
more information on our work.

Thanks again for your support – it makes all the difference.

Thank you for your interest in becoming a Barts Charity Champion!

Please enter your details and a member of the team will be in touch soon.

Can we keep in touch?

Sign up here to receive our e-news for staff of the Barts Health Hospitals and Barts and The London School of Medicine and Dentistry. Our fortnightly email will keep you updated on how staff are using our funding to make a difference, as well as ways that you can get involved with fundraising.

You can unsubscribe at any time.

To find out how we look after and use the information that you give us, take a look at our privacy policy.

Hospital staff holding sign that says 'Thank you!'
Thank you for your donation!
From innovative research to day-to-day comforts, you’re helping us to do more for the patients in the hospitals we support. We will email you confirmation of your donation within two working days.
Thank you again.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3

Your donation

You’re making a single donation of


Where would you like your donation to go?

Is this donation in memory of anyone?

What motivated you to give/fundraise?

We like to share feedback with our NHS colleagues when they have inspired someone.

What did you do to fundraise?

Your details

You are generously donating £5.00

Personal information

We’re currently updating our payment processes; you can make a donation via PayPal or if you wish to make a donation by card please check back in a few days.

Payment details

You are generously donating £5.00

Payment card details

Sign up to our e-news

Our fortnightly email is full of the latest news about the healthcare innovation that we fund, and ways you might want to get involved. You’ll be able to unsubscribe at anytime.

To find out how we look after and use the information you give us, take a look at our privacy policy.

Main form heading

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Ut elit tellus, luctus nec ullamcorper mattis, pulvinar dapibus leo.