Coping with ovarian cancer | Cancer Research UK
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Coping with ovarian cancer

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer both practically and emotionally. You may feel very upset, frightened and confused at first.

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of cancer brings, you have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. Who do you tell you have cancer? There may be children or grandchildren to consider.

The coping with cancer section contains lots of information you may find helpful including information about counselling, financial issues and much more.

CR PDF Icon You can view and print the quick guides for all the pages in the living with ovarian cancer section.



Coping with your diagnosis

It can be very difficult coping with a diagnosis of cancer, both practically and emotionally. At first, you are likely to feel very upset, frightened and confused. Or that things are out of your control. It is very important to get the right information about your type of ovarian cancer and how it is best treated. People who are well informed about their illness and treatment are more able to make decisions and cope with what happens.


Will other family members get ovarian cancer?

You may have heard on television or in the papers about ovarian cancer running in families and wonder whether this is so in your case. And you may be worried about a daughter or granddaughter getting ovarian cancer in the future. Most ovarian cancers are not hereditary. But it is clear that the women in some families do have a higher chance of developing this type of cancer. If you are concerned about this, you can talk to your GP or cancer specialist. There is information about a family history of ovarian cancer in our ovarian cancer risks and causes page.


How ovarian cancer can affect you physically

Ovarian cancer and its treatment will cause physical changes in your body. These changes can be very difficult to cope with and may affect the way you feel about yourself. Such changes can affect your self esteem and the way you relate to other people, especially close family and friends.

Another problem you may have to cope with is feeling very tired and lacking in energy a lot of the time. This is particularly so for a while after treatment, or if the cancer is advanced. Read more about fatigue and cancer in the section on coping physically with cancer.

If you are having a sexual relationship, one or all of these changes may affect your sex life. We have a section on sex and cancer for women

Some of the treatments for ovarian cancer will cause an early menopause in some women, which means you can no longer have children. This can be very difficult to cope with. It may help you to read our information about early menopause after ovarian cancer.


How ovarian cancer can affect you practically

As well as coping with the fear and anxiety that a diagnosis of ovarian cancer brings, you may also have to work out how to manage practically. There may be money matters to sort out. You may need information about financial support, such as benefits, sick pay and grants. 

Read our information on financial support

Who do you tell that you have cancer? And how do you find the words? You may also have children to think about. The coping with cancer section has information about talking to people about your cancer and how and what to tell children. One lady told us about telling her son she had cancer

"I waited until I knew more about my diagnosis and treatment before telling my 10 year old son. My husband and I worked on our instinct and what we knew of our son to help us do this. We talked to him when I was at home before chemotherapy treatment. We explained that I was poorly and needed some treatment to help me get better."

Just try to remember that you don't have to sort everything out at once. It may take some time to deal with each issue. Do ask for help if you need it. It is likely that your doctor or specialist nurse will know who you can contact to get some help - they can put you in touch with people specially trained in supporting those with cancer. These people are there to help and want you to feel that you have support. So use them if you feel you need to.


More information on coping with ovarian cancer

The coping with cancer section has lots of helpful information. There are sections on

If you would like more detailed information about coping with ovarian cancer, contact one of our cancer information nurses. They will be happy to help. Or you can contact one of the cancer information organisations in our ovarian cancer organisations page. They often have free factsheets and booklets they can send to you. They may also be able to put you in touch with a support group. 

In our coping with cancer section, you can also find details of counselling organisations, that can tell you more about counselling and help you find sources of emotional support in your area.

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Updated: 27 April 2016