What are the signs of ovarian cancer?
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Bloating is a condition where your tummy feels full and tight, often due to gas. Typically, the first line of treatment for preventing gas and bloating is changing your diet. Nonetheless, if bloating is persistent you should go to a doctor, as in some cases it may be a sign of ovarian cancer. The NHS says you should see a GP if you have been feeling bloated, particularly more than 12 times a month.
Almost 95 out of 100 women will survive their cancer for five years or more after they are diagnosed, if they are diagnosed at stage one, according to Cancer Research UK.
Ovarian cancer, or cancer of the ovaries, is one of the most common types of cancer in women.
The NHS says: “The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly early on.”
They’re often the same as symptoms of other conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome.
Persistent bloating, feeling full quickly, loss of appetite, and pelvic or abdominal pain are also signs to be aware of.
Occasionally there can be other symptoms. These include changes in bowel habits such as diarrhoea or constipation, as well as feeling very tired.
Some people will experience unexplained weight loss, which is also associated with ovarian cancer.
If you have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that will not go away you should also see a GP.
The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommends that if you have the following symptoms 12 or more times a month, your GP should arrange tests – especially if you’re are over 50:
- Swollen tummy (abdomen) or bloating
- Feeling full quickly or loss of appetite
- Pain in your abdomen
- Needing to wee more often or urgently
Cancer Research UK says: “You should see your doctor if you notice a change that isn’t normal for you or if you have any of the possible signs and symptoms of cancer.
“Even if you’re worried about what the symptom might be, don’t delay seeing them. Your worry is unlikely to go away if you don’t make an appointment. The symptom might not be due to cancer. But if it is, the earlier it’s picked up the higher the chance of successful treatment. You won’t be wasting your doctor’s time.”
The NHS notes that the exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, though some things may increase a woman’s risk of getting it. These include:
- Being over the age of 50
- A family history of ovarian or breast cancer
- Being overweight
- Lack of exercise
The health body adds: “Treatment will aim to cure the cancer whenever possible. If the cancer has spread too far to be cured, the aim is to relieve symptoms and control the cancer for as long as possible.”
“The earlier ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated, the better the chance of a cure,” it continues.
The Mayo Clinic says that there’s no sure way to prevent ovarian cancer, though there may be ways to reduce your risk.
It says “consider taking birth control pills” as this may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
It adds that you should discuss your risk factors with your doctor. If you have a family history of breast and ovarian cancers, bring this up with your doctor.
“You may be referred to a genetic counsellor who can help you decide whether genetic testing may be right for you,” it says.
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