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Health Matters: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2019

Health Matters: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2019
04 March 2019



Dr Mike Clark, Cancer Lead at NHS Eastern Cheshire CCG and GP with High Street Surgery, Macclesfield


There are 20 new cases of ovarian cancer every day in the UK, around 12 of these will be late stage diagnoses. Without a serious boost in awareness, women will continue to be diagnosed too late.

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which is a great opportunity for us to raise awareness of the condition and the early warning signs which suggest the presence of ovarian cancer.

The earlier a woman is diagnosed, the more likely she will respond to treatment. But most women are diagnosed once the disease has already spread, and one in five is diagnosed too late for any treatment at all.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly early on. They're often the same as symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), therefore women over 50 with these symptoms should consider speaking to their GP about their concerns.

There are some risk factors that can increase the chances of someone developing ovarian cancer, these include age, hormonal factors e.g. taking the pill, weight, smoking and family history.

The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • increased abdominal size/persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • difficulty eating/feeling full or loss of appetite
  • pelvic or abdominal pain
  • needing to wee more urgently or more often

Other symptoms include unexpected weight loss, a change in your bowl habits, pain during sex and feeling tired all the time.

It is important not to worry, as any of these symptoms could be caused by other conditions, but you should not delay in discussing these issues with your GP. It might not be due to cancer, but if it is, the earlier it's picked up the higher the chance of successful treatment.

Try not to be embarrassed. What you tell your GP is confidential. We are used to discussing intimate problems and will try to put you at ease.

Ovacome is a UK charity that provides free personal support and information to anyone affected by ovarian cancer, including family members, clinicians and friends. You can call the Ovacome Support Service for free on 0800 008 7054.