06 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 and 4,300 deaths annually*.
Unfortunately, because symptoms are quite vague, not well known or often mistaken, it is usually discovered in the later stages when successful treatment is much more difficult.
Now, as part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month which runs throughout March, Mr Angus Thomson, a consultant gynaecologist at Spire South Bank Hospital in Worcester, has called on women to be constantly on the lookout for possible symptoms – urging them not to dismiss them as ‘tummy troubles’ or just feeling ‘bloated’.
He said: “The symptoms are vague and often difficult to pin down. Too many women are dismissing the symptoms for too long before going to see their GP. There are not always specific symptoms and they can be subtle so it is difficult to spot and easy to attribute symptoms to other things such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome.”
Unfortunately, although early diagnosis is crucial to successful treatment, ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose and, unlike cervical cancer, there is no established screening programme.
“If 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 that women know what symptoms to look for and that they make their GP aware of those symptoms as soon as possible,” said Mr Thomson.
The four main new or changing 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 woman suffering from these symptoms is to go to their GP and discuss the matter thoroughly. GPs are very aware of ovarian cancer and women must feel confident that when they visit their GP with any of the symptoms mentioned above they will be assessed with the possibility of ovarian cancer in mind,” he added.
*Figures from Cancer Research UK