EVERY MARCH IS OVARIAN CANCER AWARENESS MONTH, AND THIS YEAR RESEARCH CHARITY OVARIAN CANCER ACTION HAS CHOSEN THE THEME LISTEN IN.
Ovarian cancer isn’t as well-known as some other female cancers, yet it is the sixth most common – with more than 7,000 diagnoses in the UK each year. The UK has one of the lowest survival rates in Western Europe, with a woman dying from ovarian cancer every two hours, resulting in 4,300 deaths annually.
Ovarian Cancer Action says one of the reasons for the poor survival rate in the UK is that the disease is often spotted too late. The charity’s Chief Executive, Katherine Taylor, says: “Ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose yet early diagnosis is crucial. 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 22% when diagnosed in the later stages.”
One obstacle to making the all-important early diagnosis is a lack of symptoms awareness. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the silent killer due to a belief that it’s symptomless. This, however, is not true. The four main signs of ovarian cancer are persistent stomach pain, persistent bloating or increased stomach size, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and needing to pee more frequently.
Detecting ovarian cancer can be difficult due to the fact that these symptoms are vague and easily confused with other ailments. Stomach pain and bloating, for example, can affect us all. However, the key is persistence. If the symptoms are unusual for you, they don’t go away and have started in the last 12 months, speak to your doctor.
It is particularly important to be symptoms aware as there is no routine test for ovarian cancer; a cervical smear will not detect the disease.
Women should feel confident about trusting their bodies and take action if they feel something is wrong. So, if you are experiencing symptoms and are worried it could be ovarian cancer, listen to your body and speak up. Book an appointment with your GP and ask for a CA125 test to rule it out.
Ovarian Cancer Action recognises that speaking up about your health can be difficult. The charity has developed a symptoms diary to help women record their symptoms, which they can then take to their GP. Search for ‘Ovarian Cancer Action’ in your phone’s app store, or download a paper version at www.ovarian.org.uk.
Ovarian Cancer: The facts
- It is the most deadly gynaecological cancer and currently the sixth most common cancer among women
- There are 7,000 new diagnoses each year in the UK
- The UK has one of the lowest survival rates in Western Europe, with a woman dying from ovarian cancer every two hours;
- That amounts to 4,300 deaths each year
- It kills more women than the other gynaecological cancers combined
Ovarian Cancer: The symptoms
The four main symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
• Persistent stomach pain
• Persistent bloating or increased stomach size
• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
• Needing to urinate more frequently
The key features of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
• Their persistency – they don’t go away
• Their frequency – they occur most days
• The symptoms are new – they started in the last 12 months
• The symptoms are unusual – they are not normal for you
We really hope you found this feature useful & will be including more health & fitness features on our lifestyle page over the coming months.