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Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: All you need to know

by Chloe Best

Ovarian Cancer affects one in 50 women in the UK, however there are still many misconceptions about the symptoms and diagnosis of the condition. As a result March has been named as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, with charity Target Ovarian Cancer encouraging people to "start making noise" in a bid to raise awareness and money to support women with the disease. We've rounded up some of the key things to know about ovarian cancer, from symptoms to treatment...

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Symptoms:

Many symptoms can be similar to those from PMS or irritable bowel syndrome, meaning almost half of women (45 per cent) wait three months or more from first visiting their GP to getting an accurate diagnosis. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include...

  • Feeling constantly bloated
  • A swollen tummy
  • Discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
  • Feeling full quickly when eating, or loss of appetite
  • Needing to pee more often or more urgently than normal

Some women may have additional symptoms, such as:

  • Persistent indigestion or nausea
  • Pain during sex
  • Back pain
  • A change in your bowel habits
  • Unintentional weight loss
  • Vaginal bleeding – particularly bleeding after the menopause
  • Feeling tired all the time
  • Unintentional weight loss

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Diagnosis:

Target Ovarian Cancer advises that if you are suffering any of the above symptoms more than 12 times a month, your GP should do a blood test which measures the level of a protein called CA125 in your sample. Depending on the results, they may also recommend an ultrasound scan. If the test results suggest that ovarian cancer may be a possibility, you will be referred to a gynaecological oncologist for further tests.

Treatment:

The initial treatment for ovarian cancer usually consists of a combination of chemotherapy and surgery, to remove as much of the affected areas as possible. Treatment will depend on the type of ovarian cancer as well as the stage and grade.

If you have any health concerns it is important to visit your GP and seek professional medical advice. Visit targetovariancancer.org.uk for more detailed information on the condition.

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