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Ovarian cancer: make sure you know the symptoms

When compared to other countries, fewer women in the UK live at least a year following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. For this to change, we need to increase awareness of the symptoms so that an earlier diagnosis can be made.

To show support for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (1-31 March), doctors at Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are encouraging women in the local area to familiarise themselves with the key symptoms of the disease.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer experienced by women, usually affecting those over the age of 50.

Common symptoms include:

  • Feeling bloated for a long period of time
  • Swollen stomach
  • Discomfort in your stomach or pelvic area
  • Needing to pee more often
  • Feeling full quickly when eating

There are several warning signs which mean you should see your GP urgently. It is unlikely you have cancer, but it is good to check just to be safe.

You should visit your GP if you have been bloated for the last three weeks, you are experiencing other symptoms of ovarian cancer or you have a family history of the disease.

The main treatments available include surgery, which often involves removing ovaries, the womb and the fallopian tubes. Chemotherapy is usually used after surgery to kill any remaining cancer cells but is sometimes used before surgery to shrink the cancer.

Dr Neil Smith GP lead for cancer commissioning for Blackburn with Darwen and East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) said: “At the moment, women in the UK are being diagnosed with ovarian cancer too late. We need to educate local residents on the symptoms so it can be caught more quickly.

“Women who feel they are experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer should contact their GP for a check-up immediately.

“With an early diagnosis, life expectancy increases dramatically, so it is important for women to know what the signs are before it becomes too late.”

In total, about half of women with ovarian cancer will live for at least five years after diagnosis and around one in three will live at least 10 years.

For more information about ovarian cancer, including the symptoms and treatments, visit NHS Choices. To find out about the survival statistics visit Cancer Research UK.