NHS Liverpool Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) are supporting Target Ovarian Cancer to encourage local women to shout about the symptoms of ovarian cancer this March.
The causes of ovarian cancer are not yet fully known, but the most important risk factors for ovarian cancer are age and a family history of ovarian or breast cancer.
There are approximately 50 new cases diagnosed in Liverpool each year, with two-thirds of these are women being aged under 75 years. Ovarian cancer is most common in women over the age of 50 but can also, less commonly, occur in younger women.
Women are often diagnosed late with ovarian cancer, as many of the symptoms are put down to other conditions. The later a woman receives a diagnosis the more difficult treatment can become, so early detection is key. When a woman is diagnosed at the earliest stage, the chances of surviving ovarian cancer, for five years or more, doubles from just 46 per cent to more than 90 per cent.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer so a woman’s route to diagnosis is key to her survival. However, each year nearly a third of ovarian cancer patients in the UK are diagnosed in Accident and Emergency.
Dr Katy Gardner, Macmillan GP at NHS Liverpool CCG said, “We are supporting ovarian cancer awareness month promoting that early detection really does save lives.
“Evidence tells us that in Liverpool, there is a low awareness of what the symptoms of ovarian cancer are. Symptoms can include persistent pain in your tummy and below, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, persistent bloating, needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual.”
Whilst these symptoms can be common in some instances, having them frequently, more than 12 times a month, persistently and not being normal for you can all be warning signs.
Dr Gardner added, “You know what's normal for you, if you are worried, talk to your GP about frequent symptoms that are new for you. Ensure you tell your GP if two or more relatives in your close family have had ovarian or breast cancer.
“Other conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) have symptoms similar to ovarian cancer but if your symptoms don't clear up, go back to your GP or seek a second opinion.”
Kath Pinder, Target Ovarian Cancer’s Head of Supportive Services, said: “Please join us this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month as we start making noise about the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
“We’re working on the ground across the UK with our amazing awareness raisers to make sure more women and their loved ones know the symptoms – and are confident to go along to their GP if they are experiencing anything out of the ordinary.
“Symptoms will be new, and persistent, so happening more than 12 times each month. You can find lots more information on ovarian cancer on our website, including our symptoms diary, which helps you track symptoms and gives tips on how to talk to your GP about them – visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk.”
Target Ovarian Cancer has a free symptoms diary app that is available to download on android and apple devices.