Everyone must know the symptoms of ovarian cancer by Dr Sharon Tate, Target Ovarian Cancer
Dr Sharon Tate, Head of Primary Care at the charity Target Ovarian Cancer outlines the symptoms of ovarian cancer and what we should all be looking out for.
Many of us are familiar with that feeling of being bloated, but did you know that persistent bloating is one of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer? Just one in five women know this, something that we, at Target Ovarian Cancer, find concerning.
Ovarian cancer claims the lives of 11 women a day. That’s 11 too many. With no effective screening tool, knowing the symptoms of this disease can give us the head start in ovarian cancer being diagnosed at the earliest possible stage.
Currently, two thirds of cases are diagnosed late and one in seven women die within two months of receiving a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. If diagnosed at the earliest stage, the easier the cancer is to treat. This is why it’s vital to see improvements in awareness of ovarian cancer, alongside GP education, investment in research and much more.
Empowering you with knowledge: what you need to look out for
Every March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and we are continuing to raise awareness of the symptoms and urge everyone to share them with friends and family. These symptoms will be new, frequent and persistent.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
· Persistent bloating - not bloating that comes and goes
· Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
· Pelvic or abdominal pain – that's pain anywhere between your tummy and top of your thighs
· Urinary symptoms – needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual
Occasionally there are other symptoms such as change in bowel habit, extreme fatigue and / or unplanned weight loss. Any unusual bleeding from the vagina before or after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.
If you are experiencing these symptoms, contact your GP. It may be nothing, but it’s best to be sure.
Who is at risk of ovarian cancer?
Each year 7,400 people are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK, and some people have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Risk factors can include:
- Your age – those over the age of 50 and post-menopause have a higher risk
- Family history - Speak to your GP if there are two or more cases of ovarian cancer and/or breast cancer on either your mother or father's side of the family.
Anyone born with ovaries or fallopian tubes is at risk of developing ovarian cancer. This means most women and trans men, some non-binary people, and some people who have differences in sex development are at risk of ovarian cancer. If your ovaries and fallopian tubes have been removed you’re at lower risk, but a small risk still remains
More information on risk factors can be found on the Target Ovarian Cancer website.
How to help your GP
We are passionate about supporting GPs in diagnosing ovarian cancer at the earliest possible stage. We know that there are a few things that you can do to help your GP if you are concerned about ovarian cancer:
- If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms that aren’t normal for you, contact your GP and tell them that you are concerned about cancer
- Think about your family history – has anyone had ovarian or breast cancer or either your father or mother’s side? If so, tell your GP
- Download the Target Ovarian Cancer symptom diary to take notes of how frequent your symptoms are and take this with you to your appointment
Supporting everyone with ovarian cancer
Working closely with health professionals, we are committed to ensuring that everyone with ovarian cancer is given the best support possible.
We provide resources for GPs and information for nurses.
Not only that but we run a support line for anyone with any concerns, a diagnosis or family or friends to contact.
We have three trained nurse advisers who are on the other end of the phone to talk to. Simply give them a call on 020 7923 5475.
If you would like to find out more about ovarian cancer and how you can help raise awareness and much-needed funds for research please contact Target Ovarian Cancer
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