A diagnosis of ovarian cancer is a crisis for any woman. Ovarian cancer has the highest mortality of all the gynaecological cancers. In addition to the very real threat of death, such a diagnosis raises critical issues concerning femininity, motherhood and sexuality. The high mortality associated with this disease is due (in part) to problems associated with early diagnosis. Women frequently experience non-specific symptoms, which may be attributed to other, less alarming causes. The lack of specific symptoms experienced by women, as well as the lack of effective mass screening strategies, make early detection difficult. This makes it crucial that nurses involved in the care of women be alert to the insidious and non-specific onset of this serious condition.