Ovarian cancer, although not one of the most common types of cancer in women, is still diagnosed in over 6,000 people in England each year. The charity Target Ovarian Cancer has made March Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, helping to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of the disease.
Most cases of ovarian cancer occur after a woman has gone through the menopause, although it can be found in younger women, especially if there is a family history of ovarian or breast cancer.
Feeling bloated most days for three weeks or more is the most recognised sign of ovarian cancer, but other symptoms include: feeling full quickly, pelvic or stomach pain, needing to pee urgently or more often than usual, changes in bowel habit, extreme fatigue, and unexplained weight loss. However, nearly half of GPs mistakenly believe symptoms only present in the later stages of the disease, and less than a third of women in the UK are confident they know the symptoms.
The importance of recognising these signs early is that often they are ignored and by the time the ovarian cancer is diagnosed it has spread beyond the ovaries when it is much harder to treat.
Jullien Brady, NHS Consultant Gynaecologist, and one of LMC's network of doctors, comments: "Knowing the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer is incredibly important. They aren't always easy to recognise because they are similar to other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but if you've been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks I would highly recommend seeing your GP or Gynaceologist as soon as possible.
"If you've already seen your GP and your symptoms continue or you have any additional symptoms, then you should go back to them and explain this or see another doctor for a second opinion.
"I would recommend that all women who have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer consider and discuss the option of being genetically tested to check your risk of getting the disease. As always it is also advisable to maintain a healthy lifestyle, by exercising regularly, stopping smoking and cutting down on alcohol."
Kirsty Ettrick, CEO and Founder of London Medical Concierge, adds: "At London Medical Concierge we are supporting Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month as we understand the importance of being able to identify the symptoms and seek professional advice as soon as possible. Far too many women are being diagnosed too late, so let's start shouting about the symptoms and make a noise this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month."
For more information please see: www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/march-ovarian-cancer-awareness-month