Many of the symptoms of early ovarian cancer mirror those of PMS (pre-menstrual syndrome) and IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), so often women assume it’s nothing serious.
In fact research shows that just 4 percent of women in the United Kingdom are confident about recognising the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
But since there are approximately 7,400 case of the disease per year in the UK, with 4,100 deaths, it’s never been more important to catch it early.
So if you’re regularly suffering from any of these signs or symptoms below, especially if you’re over 50 and have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, see a doctor.
– loss of appetite or feeling full quickly when eating
– persistent pain in your tummy or lower abdomen
– needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal
– feeling constantly bloated
– discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
– unexplained tiredness
– unexplained weight loss
– persistant indigestion or nausea
– pain during sex
– back pain
– change in bowel habits
– vaginal bleeding – particularly after the menopause
A check up at your GP will include a gentle external examination of your tummy to check for swelling or lumps. An internal examination will also take place. Your doctor will discuss your general health and go over your family’s history of ovarian and breast cancer.
According to the NHS you will get a simple blood test to check for a substance called CA125 which is produced by some ovarian cancer cells. If there is a high level it could be a sign of the disease, but it does not mean you definitely have it.
Raised CA125 levels can also be a sign of pregnancy, endometriosis and fibroids.
If your levels are elevated you will be referred for an ultra sound and if there are an abnormalities you will visit a specialist for further tests. These tests come in the form of CT scans, X-rays, biopsies and laparoscopies. Your specialist will confirm the best route to take.
– In the early stages of the disease the CA125 levels can remain normal. But if you continue having symptoms check back in with your GP as you may need to be retested.
For more information on the disease and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month visit their website.
If you are 40 and have more health questions that you think you should run by your healthcare provider, you may find the answers here.
This article is merely intended as a guide to help raise awareness and in no way should serve as a substitute for a qualified professional opinion. If you’re in ANY doubt or have concerns about your health, always visit your doctor or physician who can give you proper medical advice and refer you to the relevant specialist if required.