Ovarian cancer: make sure you know the symptoms
To show support for Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (1–31 March), doctors at NHS Blackburn with Darwen and NHS East Lancashire Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) are encouraging women in the local area to familiarise themselves with the key symptoms of the disease.
Every year 7,300 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Compared to other countries, fewer women in the UK live for a year following a diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis could prolong the life of many women.
Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer experienced by women. It mainly affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), but it can sometimes affect younger women.
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 signs to look out for, it does not mean you have cancer but it is good to get things checked out and to be safe.
Make an appointment and go see 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 cancer lead at the 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.
“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.