(ED NOTE: Ovarian cancer, along with pancreatic. prostate and some lung cancers, are four cancers that, unfortunately, are caught late; by the time they are discovered, they usually have spread, which, of course, leads to a worse prognosis.  But we feel that digitalization, with improvements in biomarkers, and in radiology, these cancer may be discovered earlier;  the power of computers doubles every 18 months,  which improves gene mapping (with preventative removal of ovaries in some cases, for example, a la Angelina Jolie and BRCA,  so occult cancers,  your days are numbered!)


Learn to spot the symptoms of ovarian cancer, says Health features editor Laura Milne

Take note of persistent bloating and pain in the pelvis or abdomen [GETTY]

EVERY woman should learn to recognise the signs of ovarian cancer – because the chances of your GP being able to spot it are slim.Like most forms of the disease, ovarian cancer is highly curable if diagnosed at the earliest stage, but this only happens in one in five cases, says Cancer charity Target Ovarian Cancer.And almost a third of patients are having to wait more than six months after they first went to see their doctor before getting a diagnosis.The problem is that some of the symptoms such as bloating and abdominal pain are similar to more common conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) which make it difficult for doctors to spot.

Target Ovarian Cancer says it is the combination of symptoms and the pattern in which they appear that is important. Some signs such as persistent bloating and feeling full quickly when eating are particularly significant, especially if they happen frequently. This should alert women to go to their doctor and ask them to investigate.


GP, cancer, If you feel something is wrong act early as talking to your GP could save your life [GETTY]

Like most forms of the disease, ovarian cancer is highly curable if diagnosed at the earliest stage

Ovarian cancer affects one in 50 women in their lifetime (7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year) and most cases are diagnosed in women who have gone through the menopause. This means that most ovarian cancer patients are over 50 – but younger women can also get it. In July, Pierce Brosnan’s daughter, Charlotte Emily died of ovarian cancer at the age of 42. The same disease killed her mother Cassandra, the actor’s first wife in 1991.To address the issue of late or missed diagnoses, Target Ovarian Cancer and Macmillan Cancer Support brought together a group of GPs and women affected by the disease to come up with ideas on how to tackle the problem. They produced the following set of tips for women worried about ovarian cancer.TIPS ABOUT OVARIAN CANCER 1. Some symptoms are particularly significant: take note of persistent bloating, pain in the pelvis or abdomen, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and needing to wee more urgently or often than usual; particularly if the symptoms are new for you, they don’t go away and especially if they happen more than 12 times a month.

2. If you feel something is seriously wrong then act early. After all, you know your own body. Talking to your GP about symptoms might save your life.

3. If you think you need an appointment be assertive. Don’t put it off.

4. If you need more time because you have a number of concerns you can book a double appointment with your GP. Remember telephone appointments may be available if you have a specific issue you would like to discuss.

Symptoms, cancer Symptoms can include unexpected weight loss, change in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue [GETTY]

5. Help your GP as much as possible, in advance of your appointment write down anything you want to discuss and if there is something specific such as ovarian cancer you are worried about, then mention it to your GP.

6. Keep a symptom diary if your symptoms persist. This can be useful not only for you but also when you see your GP.

7. If friends or family notice you are unwell or experiencing symptoms, act on their concerns and make an appointment with your GP, don’t dismiss their worries.

8. If your GP asks you to return if things haven’t improved, they really mean it.

9. If tests and investigations are negative and your symptoms persist, go back and see your GP – they are there to help.

10. A normal smear test only rules out cancer of the cervix and not other female cancers such as ovarian and uterine (womb). If you are worried about ovarian cancer then say so.


Symptoms of ovarian cancer are frequent (they usually happen more than 12 times a month) and persistent, and include:

• Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating

• Difficulty eating/feeling full

• Pelvic or abdominal pain

• Needing to wee more urgently or more often

Other symptoms can include unexpected weight loss, change in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue.

For more information on symptoms and tests visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk


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