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Ovarian Cancer: know the symptoms

Ovarian Cancer: know the symptoms

Did you know that 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in the UK? However, the earlier it’s spotted, the easier it is to treat!

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is when abnormal cells in the ovary begin to grow uncontrollably and divide into more cells, eventually forming a growth known as a tumour. If the cancer isn’t caught early enough, these cells can grow into surrounding tissues and eventually spread to other areas in the body.

There are different types of ovarian cancer, most cases are ‘epithelial cancers’ (a cancer that started in cells covering ovary or end of fallopian tubes.) Primary peritoneal cancer starts in the thin layer of tissue lining the inside of the abdomen and fallopian cancer starts in the fallopian tubes.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Most cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women who have already gone through the menopause, but younger women are also at risk. Here are some of the typical symptoms to look out for:

  • Persistent bloating
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal pain
  • Loss of appetite
  • Frequent urge to urinate

If you regularly experience one or more of the listed symptoms, or new symptoms arise, always see your GP, especially if you experience any bleeding after the menopause. Survival can be up to 90% for women in the UK diagnosed at the earliest stage.

Can cancer be prevented?

4 in 10 UK cancer cases could be prevented. Cancer is caused by damage to our DNA over time, this damage includes UV rays from the sun and alcohol. There are things you can do to reduce your chances of getting cancer.

  • Don’t smoke/stop smoking – not smoking is one of the most effective ways of reducing your risk of cancer. Smoke and chemicals can affect your blood and damage your body. Approx. 3% of some types of ovarian cancer seem to be linked to exposure to tobacco smoke.
  • Maintain a healthy weight – being active helps you stay a healthy weight and eating a balanced diet can all help reduce your risk of cancer.
  • Watch your alcohol intake – cutting down on alcohol is good for your health full stop, but it also reduces your risk of cancer. It doesn’t matter what type of alcohol you consume, ciders, wine and spirits all cause damage to the body if abused.

What help is available?

You can find information from the Target Ovarian Cancer website, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support.

If you have any worries or concerns about any of the symptoms mentioned, seek medical advice from your GP or practising nurse.

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