March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, do you know what you should be looking out for? Our gynaecology consultant Miss Neela Mukhopadhaya discusses the risks, symptoms and what to do if you’re concerned.
What is ovarian cancer?
- Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women, affecting over 6,500 women in the UK each year
- Ovarian growths are often diagnosed on scans carried out for other reasons and usually disappear within a few weeks. However the risk of a symptomatic cyst being malignant is 1:1000 in women under 40, this increases to 3:1000 by the age of 50
- Of ovarian masses which require surgery, 13-21% are diagnosed with ovarian cancer
What are the risks to me?
Everyone is at risk of ovarian cancer, but there are risk factors which make some people more susceptible:
- Statistics show that Ashkenazi Jews are more likely to develop ovarian cancer
- The risk of ovarian cancer dramatically increases in patients over 50
- The risks are much higher for those with a strong family history of breast and ovarian cancer. A BRCA 1 or 2 gene mutation can increase risk of breast and/or ovarian cancer to a 50-85% lifetime risk.
What should I do if I am worried or present symptoms?
Ovarian cancer is often asymptomatic, or symptoms can often be mistaken for other conditions. This means that ovarian cancer is often found at a late stage.
Symptoms to look out for:
- Pain in the tummy
- Feeling bloated
- Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
- Needing to pass urine more urgently or frequently
I am worried, what should I do now?
Testing for ovarian cancer is usually carried out after a consultation with a gynaecologist. A transvaginal ultrasound is the best diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer. Other investigations can include a physical examination, CT, MRI and blood tests.
Miss Neela Mukhopadhaya runs women's health clinics at Spire Harpenden Hospital, dedicated to helping women who are concerned about their health.
If you are concerned about ovarian cancer or any other gynaecological matters, Miss Mukhopadhaya’s women's health clinics could help put your mind to rest.