Ovarian Cancer: How to Spot the Symptoms

28.04.2019 Category: Cancer Author: Dr Belinda Griffiths

OVARIAN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

“In the UK a woman dies every two hours from ovarian cancer, but the earlier the diagnosis the better the chances” Professor Hani Gabra – Director of Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre.

March marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and, at Fleet Street Clinic, we are working to support this important cause, spread awareness and highlight symptoms to help increase early detection.

Ovarian cancer is a common type of cancer with 1 in every 50 women in the UK being diagnosed in their lifetime.

Like with any other type of cancer, early detection saves lives. Your outcome depends on the stage of the cancer when it was diagnosed. This means how big it is and whether it has spread to other areas of the body. The earlier it is detected the easier it is to treat.

Unfortunately, the problem is Ovarian Cancer is notoriously difficult to spot. 

Symptoms tend to be non-specific in the early stages which means it can often be mistaken for more common conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. This can often lead to delays in diagnosing and increase the chance that the cancer will be identified at a later stage which can have an impact on your survival rate.

When diagnosed in the early stages 9 in 10 women will survive, which is why it is so important to be aware of your body and the symptoms of ovarian cancer. 

HOW TO RECOGNISE THE SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER

Early Ovarian Cancer symptoms can be similar to symptoms of other conditions. If you are experiencing any combination of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical advice to rule out Ovarian Cancer:

  • Feeling full quickly
  • Bloating or an increase in the size of your abdomen
  • Needing to wee more frequently
  • Loss of appetite
  • Pain in the lower stomach and pelvis
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Unexplained tiredness
  • Changes to your bowel movements or symptoms similar to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

You should contact a GP as soon as possible if:

  • You frequently feel bloated (more than 12 times a month) 
  • You are experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer that do not go away
  • You have a family history of ovarian cancer and are concerned about your risk  

The general advice is that if something doesn’t feel right and someone new is happening to your body which is not normal for you, go see a doctor just in case. 

It is important to know that the risk of Ovarian Cancer increases with age. You are at greater risk of Ovarian Cancer if you are over the age of 50 and so regular Ovarian Cancer screenings are a good idea. Perhaps including one within your annual health review would be beneficial for peace of mind. 

Currently, there is no national ovarian cancer screening programme in place, however, there is the option of private healthcare. 

If you experience any of the above mentioned symptoms or you are over 50 and would like an Ovarian Cancer screening, please book an appointment to discuss your concerns with a doctor.