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Ovarian cancer awareness month

16 February 2017

It is often called ‘the silent killer’ but early detection can lead to successful treatment for women suffering from ovarian cancer.

However, because symptoms are not well known or often mistaken for as ‘tummy troubles’ or period pains, 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, consultants at Spire Clare Park Hospital in Farnham, Surrey, are urging women to be constantly on the lookout for possible symptoms. 

Consultant Gynaecologist Mr Gareth Beynon 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. This can contribute to GPs sometimes suspecting Irritable Bowel Syndrome as being the problem.” 

It is the fifth most common cancer amongst women in the UK. With more than 7,000 women being diagnosed each year and 4,300 deaths annually, it is estimated that as many as 1 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. 

“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 stage- 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 Beynon.

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,” Mr Beynon added.

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