Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – know your body

Posted March 06, 2018

Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common form of cancer death in British women, after breast, lung and bowel cancer.

Each year in the UK there are approximately 7,400 cases of ovarian cancer. This is roughly 142 women each week.

Most cases of cancer of the ovary develop in women over the age of 50. The development of ovarian cancer is not fully understood but the most widely held view is that it results from repeated damage and repair of the surface of the ovary caused by ovulation, which occurs every month in most women who have not gone through the menopause. However, one in 10 ovarian cancers (10%) are caused by an inherited gene. Inherited genes that increase the risk of ovarian cancer include BRCA1 and BRCA2; these genes also increase the risk of breast cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is a great time to let women know that they can do positive things to improve their health and that early detection can make a massive difference to the success of treatment.

It is really important that women are aware of what is normal for them, so that they recognise any changes. If you know your body, then you can act early if something out-of-the-ordinary happens.

Symptoms to be aware of:

• Persistent stomach pain and bloating
• Increased abdominal size
• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
• Weight loss
• Passing urine more often
• Back pain
• Changes in your bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation)
• Feeling tired all the time

These symptoms are quite common in many other conditions so it is far more likely that they will be due to other less serious problems. However, because ovarian cancers can develop without many symptoms, it is important to get any new symptoms checked out. Anyone who experiences the symptoms associated with ovarian cancer, or are worried that they may have the inherited gene, should visit their GP who can then refer them to a specialist if necessary.

Diagnosis

Your GP will arrange a number of tests which will include:
• Physical examination
• CA125 blood test
• Pelvic ultrasound scan

If these tests show up any abnormal results your GP can refer you to a specialist for further investigations to find out the cause.

Mr Richard Slade is a Consultant Gynaecological Surgeon at HCA The Wilmslow Hospital and The Christie Private Care, and specialises in gynaecological cancers.

For more information or to book a consultation with Mr Richard Slade please call 0161 825 9120.