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The role of support groups

Ovarian cancer is uncommon with around 7000 women diagnosed for the first time every year in the UK.  Some of them never meet another person who has the same diagnosis, so having ovarian cancer can be a very isolating and frightening experience.

Meeting other women can be reassuring; it can powerfully demonstrate that women with ovarian cancer can respond to treatment and go on to live fulfilling lives. Meeting others in the same or very similar situations means you can share knowledge and experience which is very comforting.



Who runs the groups?

You may be lucky enough to have an ovarian cancer support group near you.  It may be organised and run by a local cancer nurse specialist (CNS) and largely hospital based.  Other groups are started by women themselves, do not have formal input from health professionals and meet in community spaces or cafes and pubs.

Other groups that could meet your needs may be more general gynaecological cancer groups or very general groups that serve people with many different cancers.  You may want to try different groups before you settle for one that suits you best.


What are the pros and cons?

Support groups can give you confidence, shared knowledge and experience.  This can help you learn to manage your cancer, communicate with health professionals and get the best out of your treatments.   You can also make friends and socialise in safe and supportive surroundings.

As well as meeting women who are coping well and maintaining good health, you will at some point meet those who are not.  It can be difficult and disheartening to see people experience recurrences and further treatment.

It is also important to bear in mind that you are there because you want support, and you may be expected to give it to the other members too. 


Tips for attending a support group

  • You can find out more before you go along by contacting the organiser who can tell you about the size of the group and the format of meetings – for instance whether they have speakers or whether members are invited to talk about their experiences.
  • If you feel nervous about attending, ask if you can bring a friend or family member to support you. Let the organiser know if you prefer not to speak.


Other forms of support

Online communities can offer friendship and shared experiences which many women find positive and helpful.  Some women like to use these when they need support with problems caused by their cancer and have less contact when the crisis is over. So forums can sometimes be less likely to include positive experiences of being well.

Online communities have the advantage of being available at all times. Look for a community that is moderated and protects its members.  There is information about the My Ovacome forum here

You can also use the Ovacome support line, call free phone 0800 008 7054 or email [email protected] as a source of immediate help and emotional support on any issue around ovarian cancer.  We can also tell you details of support groups near you.

You may have a cancer support centre near you, such as a Maggie’s Centre.  They can offer support groups, complementary therapies advice and information.  If you are looking for a professional counsellor or therapist  contact the British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) at https://www.bacp.co.uk/search/Therapists.


Useful links








British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy

Cancer Counselling London


CRUSE bereavement support

Macmillan information on ‘chemo brain’

Maggie’s Centres are staffed by Cancer Support Specialists, Benefits Advisors, Nutritionists, therapists and Psychologists, all providing support in whichever way best suits you.

Macmillan Cancer Support lists local centres and support groups.

My Ovacome forum

Cancer Support UK provides practical and emotional support to people living with cancer, both during and after the treatment period across the UK by telephone.

Penny Brohn UK run a range of free services including courses, groups and individual therapies designed to help you feel better and live better with cancer, its treatments and side effects.


If you have any questions or need any further information please contact our support service team on 0800 008 7054 or email [email protected]


Written by:Anna Hudson, Head of Support Services, Ovacome


Disclaimer: Ovacome briefings are designed to provide information, advice and support about ovarian cancer to patients and the public. Whilst Ovacome makes every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in the briefing, it is not a formal legal document. The information provided is accurate at the time of printing. It is not a substitute for professional advice. Ovacome cannot accept liability for any inaccuracy via third party information from sources to which we link.