14 March 2019
Campaigners are planning to make Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2019 the loudest of its kind ever – as they prepare to make some noise about the ‘silent killer’.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer amongst women in the UK with more than 7,000 women diagnosed each year with 4,300 deaths annually*.
But because symptoms are not well known or often mistaken then it 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, Mr Malcolm Padwick , a consultant gynaecologist at Spire Bushey Hospital, has called on women to be constantly on the lookout for possible symptoms – urging them not to dismiss them as ‘tummy troubles’ or period pains.
He said: “Far too many women are dismissing the symptoms for too long before going to see their GP. Unfortunately there is not always a specific symptom and the symptoms could be subtle so it is difficult to spot which can contribute to GPs sometimes suspecting Irritable Bowel Syndrome as being the problem.”
Unfortunately, although early diagnosis is crucial to a successful treatment, ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose and, like cervical cancer, there is no established screening programme.
“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 even less than 40% when diagnosed in the later stages so it is important they know what symptoms to look for and that they make their GP aware of those symptoms as soon as possible,” said Mr Padwick.
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
“My advice to any woman suffering from any of these symptoms is to go to their GP and discuss the matter thoroughly. Women must feel confident that when they visit their GP with any of the symptoms mentioned above they will be examined with the possibility of ovarian cancer in mind,” he added.
*Figures from Cancer Research UK
Mr Malcolm Padwick is a leading Consultant Gynaecologist at Spire Bushey Hospital.