It is estimated over 1,600 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year. That’s less than one-tenth the number of women who are diagnosed with breast cancer each year. But while breast cancer is much more common, ovarian cancer is much deadlier, says gynaecologist Dr Ron Drapkin.

Of the 1,600 women who will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, about 1,000 of them will die from it. A big reason for that: Ovarian cancer tends to be diagnosed late.

“We don’t yet have early detection tools for ovarian cancer, and most of its symptoms are non-specific,” Dr Drapkin says, meaning there are no warning signs that will make a doctor think, “Oh, that’s ovarian cancer.”

“Research shows most women [with ovarian cancer] were going to their doctors with symptoms for 6 or 9 months before their diagnoses,” Dr Drapkin explains. But because the symptoms are related to a vast variety of health problems, more common conditions usually have to be ruled out first.

That’s why ovarian cancer is often called a silent killer. Only 15 percent of all ovarian cancers are detected at an early easier-to-treat stage, before the cancer spreads outside the ovary. “There are a number of symptoms that occur early on with ovarian cancer. The problem is, they’re very easy to ignore,” explains expert in gynaecological oncology and reproductive medicine Dr Shannon Westin.

Your best bet? Paying attention to your body and the persistence of out-of-the-norm symptoms can help you catch ovarian cancer before it spreads, improving your chances of beating it. Here, the most common warning signs to look out for.