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Knowing the symptoms could save your life

09 March 2017

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month runs throughout March

Knowing the symptoms could save your life

Ovarian cancer is often called ‘the silent killer’ but early detection can lead to successful treatment for sufferers.

Symptoms if present at all are usually mild and often mistaken for non-specific ‘tummy troubles’ or irritable bowel.  This means that the disease is usually discovered in the late stages when successful treatment is much more difficult.

Now, as part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month which runs throughout March, consultants at Spire Alexandra Hospital in Walderslade, are urging women to be constantly on the lookout for possible symptoms.

Consultant Gynaecological Surgeon Professor Hasib Ahmed said: “Far too many women are dismissing the symptoms for too long before going to see their GP.  Unfortunately there is no specific symptom and any symptoms are often subtle.  These factors make the diagnosis difficult to spot and undoubtedly can contribute to GPs suspecting Irritable Bowel Syndrome as being the problem.” 

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer amongst women in the UK and more than 7,000 women are diagnosed each year with 4,300 deaths annually.  It is estimated that as many as one in 50 women will develop ovarian cancer.

Unfortunately, although early diagnosis is crucial to a successful treatment, ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose and, unlike cervical cancer, there is no established screening programme. 

Professor Ahmed emphasised “When women are diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90% chance of surviving for more than five years but this reduces to around 30% when diagnosed in the later stages. It is vitally important that women know what symptoms to look for and that they make their GP aware of those symptoms as soon as possible,”

The four main symptoms to look out for are:

  • Persistent bloating or increased stomach size
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Needing to urinate more frequently
  • Persistent stomach pain

Professor Ahmed added “My advice to any woman suffering from any of these symptoms is to go to their GP and discuss the matter thoroughly. Women must be assured that when they visit their GP with any of the symptoms mentioned above that they will be examined with the possibility of ovarian cancer in mind,” 

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