Ovarian cancer: the killer symptoms to look out for

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11 women die in the UK every day from ovarian cancer. Awareness nationally is low, that’s why health leaders at NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are supporting Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in March to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer as early diagnosis is crucial. ​

Over 7,000 women are diagnosed each year in England with ovarian cancer and it causes more than 3,500 deaths in England annually, but this doesn’t need to be the case. When a woman is diagnosed at the earliest stage, her chance of surviving ovarian cancer for five years or more doubles from just 46 per cent to more than 90 per cent,* which is why doctors in Sandwell & West Birmingham are encouraging local women to look out for the early warning signs.

Just 1 in 5 women can name persistent bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer – an alarmingly low rate of awareness. Early diagnosis is the key to survival rates, as once the cancer has already spread, it makes treatment more difficult. Awareness of the disease is so important, to improve detection, treatment and ultimately survival.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are frequent (they usually happen more than 12 times a month) and persistent. They include:

  • feeling constantly bloated
  • a swollen tummy
  • discomfort/pain in your tummy or pelvic area
  • feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
  • needing to wee more often or more urgently than normal
Dr Ayaz Ahmed, local GP and Cancer Clinical Sponsor at NHS Sandwell and West Birmingham CCG, said: "Women need to know what to look for, so they can go to their doctor as soon as possible. GPs need to know what to rule out, so they can send women for the right diagnostic tests as soon as possible. Only with increased awareness of the symptoms can we increase early diagnosis.

"As a first step, keep a symptoms diary to note down each time your symptoms occur, when you first noticed them and if they seem to be getting worse.

"You're not wasting anyone's time by getting the symptoms checked out and if it's nothing to worry about it will put your mind at rest".

For more information please visit http://ocam.org.uk/ and http://www.targetovariancancer.org.uk/information-and-support/what-ovarian-cancer/ovarian-cancer-symptoms