With UK survival rates for ovarian cancer amongst the lowest in Europe and 75% of women diagnosed only once the cancer has taken hold, March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and we are all being encouraged to make some noise!
Over 7,300 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year, over half will not survive; that’s 11 women a day losing their lives.*
Ovarian cancer is the biggest gynaecological killer of women in the UK and we all need to be more aware of early symptoms that could dramatically improve detection and survival. Sometimes referred to as the “silent killer”, late diagnosis is a real issue, as current research tells us that as few as 4% of UK women* are confident they could spot the crucial early signs and some GPs only believe symptoms become apparent in the later stages.
If you are experiencing the symptoms above it’s important to visit your GP, who should ensure you get a blood test. It is especially important if you are over 50-years-old and have been experiencing these symptoms regularly, particularly more than 12 times a month. Other symptoms include, unexpectedly losing weight, changes in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue. If the blood test is abnormal or symptoms persist, it should be followed by an abdominal/pelvic ultrasound.
It’s worth knowing…
Ovarian cancer cannot be detected by a smear test, which is for picking up cervical cancer.
Over 50 and think you’ve just developed IBS? If you haven’t suffered with IBS before, it’s unusual to develop it now, so, again visit your GP and ask for an ovarian cancer blood test as part of your check up.
Two or more cases of ovarian or breast cancer in your immediate family, on your mother or your father’s side? Be aware of any symptoms and ensure you tell your GP.
If you have been to see your GP and symptoms persist or get worse, go back and discuss this with them – you know your body better than anyone else!
Lastly, and importantly, please tell your family and friends about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and encourage them to pass it on.
For further help, guidance and support get in touch with the charity Target Ovarian Cancer
Target Ovarian Cancer Support Line: 020 7923 5475