Health talk: Millions of women at risk of ovarian cancer because they don’t know key symptoms

MILLIONS of women are at risk of ovarian cancer because they don’t know one of the key symptoms, a charity is warning.

Target Ovarian Cancer says an “unacceptable” lack of knowledge is putting lives at risk.
If you’re experiencing persistent bloating it could be a sign of ovarian cancer
They warned as few as one in five British women know that bloating is one of the main warning signs of ovarian cancer.
In comparison, almost three quarters of all women recognise that a lump in the breast or armpit can be a signal of breast cancer.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, warned that neither figure was good enough.
She said: “Early diagnosis is the holy grail in ovarian cancer, and awareness campaigns have the power to save lives.
“It is completely unacceptable that women lack this knowledge.
I want every person at risk of breast and ovarian cancer to sit up and ask themselves, do I know these symptoms?
Annwen Jones, Chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer
“I want every person at risk of breast and ovarian cancer to sit up and ask themselves, do I know these symptoms?
“The way things are at the moment is untenable.”
The charity also revealed that just one in three women would see a doctor if they were experiencing persistent bloating.
While half would try things like eating probiotic yoghurts or going gluten-free before vising a GP.

Who is most at risk of ovarian cancer?

A number of things can increase your risk from ovarian cancer, including:
  • Age – Women older than 50 have a greater risk
  • Family history – If ovarian or breast cancer runs in the family you could have inherited genes that make you more at risk
  • Weight – If you are overweight you may be more susceptible
  • Conditions – If you have endometriosis, where tissue that behaves like the lining of the womb grows outside the womb area, this can increase your chance. If you have had hormone replacement therapy (HRT), there is a very small chance this can increase your risk.
  • In fact, just 20 per cent of patients find out they’ve got stage 4 cancer because symptoms are overlooked or they don’t get tested in time.
    Ovarian cancer is the biggest gynaecological killer of women in Britain, with the UK having some of the worst survival rates in Europe.
    If you get diagnosed in the earliest stage, you’ve got a 90 per cent chance of surviving over five years.
    That drops dramatically to 40 per cent by stage two, which is halved again a stage later.
    By the final stage – at which so many women are diagnosed – you’ve got a 95 per cent chance of dying before those five years are up.

    The other signs you need to know

    Many symptoms of ovarian cancer are hard to recognise as they are similar to conditions such as IBS.
    As well as bloating, below are some of the other key symptoms to look out for:

    1. Pain in your belly or pelvic area

    Belly aches aren’t uncommon but if you feel pain every day then that’s an indication that something’s up.
    If you have tension in your stomach or pelvis which goes after passing wind or going to the loo, you might have something like IBS.
    With ovarian cancer, however, there’s no physical release.

    2. Feeling full quickly when eating

    Changes in appetite are always worth getting checked out.
    If you normally demolish three good meals a day and suddenly find yourself struggling to eat half of your breakfast, something’s not right.

    3. Needing to pee more often

    Drinking more water might make you run to the loo but when you’re peeing more frequently for no apparent reason, it’s worth getting checked out.
    Needing to pee usually isn’t a sign of ovarian cancer but could be a symptom of something else going on in the area.

    4. Back pain

    Like needing to pee more, there are any number of reasons why you might get lower back pain.
    But if you have any of these other signs then you absolutely must go to see your GP as soon as you can.

    5. Change in poo habits

    To know if anything changes, you have to be aware of what’s natural for you.
    If you normally go for a poo once or twice a day and suddenly find yourself running to the loo five or six times, that’s a sign that something is off.
    The same applies if you struggle to go at all.

    6. Unexplained weight loss

    If you haven’t been actively trying to lose weight and find that a couple of stone have suddenly fallen off, that’s not a good sign.
    Losing weight when you are not trying to is a very common symptom in people with cancer.
    It may be one of the reasons you first go to the doctor.
    Cancer Research UK says: “If you are not dieting and you lose more than 5 per cent of your normal weight in one month or 10 per cent in six months, your doctor will want to find out the cause.
    “For example, if you normally weigh 10 stone (63.5 kg) and lose half a stone (3kg) in a month, or a stone (6kg) in six months that would need investigating.
    “This may not seem like a lot of weight, but if you continue to lose weight at this rate, it could become a serious problem.”
    See also  COVID-19: India donates seven tonnes of hydroxychloroquine to Nigeria

    Leave a Comment