16 March 2018
March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – a time when charities come together to raise awareness of this terrible ‘silent’ disease.
It is the fourth most common cancer amongst women in the UK with more than 7,000 women diagnosed each year and 4,300 deaths annually* yet early detection can lead to successful treatment for many sufferers.
But because symptoms are often mistaken for ‘tummy troubles’ or period pains, it is usually discovered in the late stages, when, despite effective treatments with advanced surgical techniques and the best chemotherapy regimens, curative treatment is much more difficult.
Mr Francis Gardner, a Consultant Gynaecologist and Cancer Surgeon at Spire Portsmouth Hospital 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 common misdiagnoses such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”
Now Ovarian Cancer charities are urging women to be constantly on the lookout for possible symptoms – and to act on them sooner rather than later.
“When women are diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a greater than 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.
Mr Gardner recommends “Any woman suffering from non specific pelvis and abdominal symptoms should go to their GP and discuss the matter thoroughly. Women must feel confident that when they visit their GP with non specific abdominal and pelvic symptoms they will be assessed with the possibility of ovarian cancer in mind and a Ca125 blood test is requested at an early stage”.
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
Find out more about Mr Francis Gardner, Consultant Gynaecologist and Cancer Surgeon practising at Spire Portsmouth Hospital.
*Figures from Cancer Research UK
The content of this article is provided for general information only, and should not be treated as a substitute for the professional medical advice of your doctor or other health care professional.