March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common cancers in women, with almost 7,500 new cases a year in the UK and 4,116 deaths recorded in 2017.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynaecological cancer and known to be a silent killer because the symptoms are often associated with other less serious conditions.

Only one third of ovarian cancer is diagnosed at stage 1, giving a lady 90% chance of surviving for five years or more. The other two thirds of cases are not picked up until the cancer has spread around the body. Survival rate is then lower because it is very hard to treat.

It is really important to raise awareness of this cancer and make the symptoms better known and have ladies seek opinions from their GP. If a GP does not know the full picture of symptoms and history, it is possible to associate the symptoms given to be from one of the less serious conditions which include menopause if you are over 50, or stress or even Irritable Bowel Syndrome so it is good to keep a diary of symptoms and provide an accurate description of how severe and persistent symptoms are.

Regardless of your age, you know your body best, and if you have or are experiencing new symptoms that include the list below, don’t delay if they seem to be persistent as the earlier the diagnosis the better the chances of diagnosing the cancer at an earlier stage when survival rare is higher.

Common symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • Discomfort in the pelvis/stomach area
  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • A frequent need to urinate
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation

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In the UK currently only 46% of women survive five years beyond their diagnosis. In other words the outlook is not so good for anyone diagnosed with this type of cancer compared to others such as breast cancer which is 87%.  Our statistics of survival are noted to be much worse than other countries and this is partly due to our poor awareness of the symptoms of the disease.

Ladies be aware of the common symptoms and remember, if you notice you or a friend are suffering with the symptoms listed, don’t ignore them, don’t let it become your or your friends ‘norm’ keep a record and if they seem persistent, then be proactive and tell your GP. If tests are normal e.g. urine test or cervical smear detected no abnormality but you still have the symptoms, be persistent with your GP to investigate your symptoms.

Together we can take ovar and stop late diagnosis of ovarian cancer

About the Author

Catherine Leong

Catherine Leong

Solicitor - Clinical Negligence

Catherine has extensive medical knowledge and experience having trained as a diagnostic radiographer. At the end of her radiographic career she specialised in emergency imaging. She has also worked commercially in healthcare. Her final position before re-training into law was Global Product Manager in Digital Mammography.