Spotting the signs of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer kills thousands of women all around the world every year, mainly because its symptoms are hard to spot.
But the good news is, if diagnosed at an early stage, the prospects for a full recovery are significantly improved. So what should you look out for as possible early signs of the illness?
The most common symptoms are:
- feeling constantly bloated
- a swollen stomach
- discomfort in your stomach or pelvic area
- feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
- needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal
Other symptoms can include:
- persistent indigestion or nausea
- pain during sex
- a change in your bowel habits
- back pain
- vaginal bleeding – particularly bleeding after the menopause
- feeling tired all the time
- unintentional weight loss
Some women may experience these health issues with other conditions, such as endometriosis or fibroids, but the more frequently, persistently and severely they go on, the more likelihood ovarian cancer is the cause.
The disease mainly affects post-menopausal women, with 90% of cases occurring in the over 45s. Women who have never had children are twice as likely to get ovarian cancer and it may be more likely in women who have suffered from endometriosis.
You should contact your GP as soon as possible if you have any or all of the symptoms, especially if there’s a history of ovarian cancer in your family.
Did you know? Cervical screening, also known as a smear test, will only detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer.