The “silent killer” claims the life of 11 British women every day.
FOUR in five women are clueless when it comes to the warning signs of ovarian cancer.
While most of us know to look for a lump to check for breast cancer, knowledge of ovarian cancer is at a critical low among both the public and medics.
Yet, every year 7,000 women are dealt the devastating diagnosis, and that number is projected to rise by 15% by 2035.
Nearly half of those diagnosed see their GP at least three times before being referred for tests, and two-thirds are not diagnosed until after the cancer has spread. This impending ovarian cancer “time bomb” is down to a worrying lack of awareness.
Four in five of us cannot name one major symptom of ovarian cancer, and another problem is that GPs often attribute symptoms to other issues, like the menopause. Which is why the #OvarIt campaign has been launched.
Many women are also under the impression the ovarian cancer doesn’t affect young people. Yet, 18 per cent of those diagnosed – nearly one in five – are under 50.
Here are the red flag signs YOU could have ovarian cancer?
- Persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes- and
- feeling full quickly plus a loss of appetite.
- Tummy or pelvic pain.
- Needing to wee more urgently, or more often than usual.
- Changes in bowel habit, diarrhoea or constipation and extreme tiredness.
- Unexplained weight loss.
Who’s most at risk?
There are a number of factors that can increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer. They include:
- Age – women older than 50 have a greater risk, but one in five sufferers are under 50.
- Family history – if ovarian cancer runs in your family, if a close female relative has been diagnosed, it could mean there’s a genetic risk.
- Weight – if you’re overweight or obese you’re more likely to develop the disease.
- Health problems – if you have conditions including endometriosis and diabetes, have had hormone replacement therapy, or use talcum powder between your legs, you could be at greater risk.
- Lifestyle – smokers are more likely to develop the disease
What should you do if you’re worried?
These signs and symptoms are cause for concern if they happen frequently – more than 12 times a month. If they don’t go away or are not normal for you, it’s important to visit your GP.
In many cases, there will be another, less serious, reason for these symptoms, but it’s vital to let a doctor check you over.