Thursday, 8 May 2014

Ovarian cancer - make sure you know the signs

Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day. Many symptoms of this type of cancer are non-specific little niggles that could be caused by a whole host of less-serious health problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome or ovarian cysts. This is why many women ignore them and are diagnosed too late.

Remember, ovarian cancer is fairly rare
According to Ovarian Cancer Action, all women in the UK have a one in 54 chance of developing ovarian cancer. Women are most at risk if they have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer or they are aged over 50, although there are some other factors that will increase the risk slightly (e.g. being obese or starting menstrual periods before the age of 12).

Know for the signs
Watch out for these symptoms  (courtesy of Ovarian Cancer Action):

  • Persistent stomach pain
  • Persistent bloating
  • Finding it difficult to eat or feeling full quickly
  • Needing to wee more often.

If you are regularly experiencing these symptoms on most days, it's important to talk to your GP as soon as possible. Make a symptom diary including when they occur and if they appear to be getting worse. Also think about any triggers that could be setting them off (e.g. what you eat or drink, your stress levels etc).

Other symptoms you may notice include:

  • Back pain
  • Changes in your bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Feeling tired all the time.
Don't panic
Most people get the above symptoms from time to time. Usually these don't have a serious cause. However, they also shouldn't be ignored. According to Ovarian Cancer Action, ovarian cancer symptoms usually persistent and frequent (for more then 12 days a month), get progressively worse, will have started within the last 12 months and will be unusual for you. Your GP can arrange a number of tests and discuss any concerns.

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