Know The Signs

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and this year research charity Ovarian Cancer Action has chosen the theme Listen In!

Ovarian cancer isn’t as well-known as some other female cancers, yet it is the sixth most common – with more than 7,000 diagnoses in the UK each year. The UK has one of the lowest survival rates in Western Europe, with a woman dying from ovarian cancer every two hours, resulting in 4,300 deaths annually.

Ovarian Cancer Action says one of the reasons for the poor survival rate in the UK is that the disease is often spotted too late. The charity’s chief executive, Katherine Taylor, says: “Ovarian cancer is particularly difficult to diagnose, yet early diagnosis is crucial. When women are diagnosed in the early stages of ovarian cancer they have a 90% chance of surviving for more than five years but this reduces to 22% when diagnosed in the later stages.”

One obstacle to making the all-important early diagnosis is a lack of symptoms awareness. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the silent killer due to a belief that it’s symptomless. This, however, is not true. The four main signs of ovarian cancer are persistent stomach pain, persistent bloating or increased stomach size, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and needing to pee more frequently.

Detecting ovarian cancer can be difficult since these symptoms are vague and easily confused with other ailments. Stomach pain and bloating, for example, can affect us all. However, the key is persistence. If the symptoms are unusual for you, they don’t go away, and have started in the last 12 months, speak to your doctor.

Women should feel confident about trusting their bodies and take action if they feel something is wrong. So, if you are experiencing symptoms and are worried it could be ovarian cancer, listen to your body and speak up. Book an appointment with your GP and ask for a CA125 test to rule it out.

Ovarian Cancer Action recognises that speaking up about your health can be difficult. The charity has developed a symptoms diary to help women record their symptoms, which they can then take to their GP. Search for ‘Ovarian Cancer Action’ in your phone’s app store, or download a paper version at www.ovarian.org.uk.

#WalkInHerName
Are you ready to start walking? During this year’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, charity Ovarian Cancer Action is asking supporters to #WalkInHerName, to help raise vital funds for medical research. To show your support, don your hiking boots and arrange a local #WalkInHerName.
Organising your walk couldn’t be easier. Just gather a group of eager walkers, choose a route, ask everyone in your group to create an online giving page and get raising those all-important funds. Register your details to receive a free #WalkInHerName welcome pack with information on how to organise your walk, ideas and tips on how to fundraise at ovarian.org.uk or by contacting Beatrix@ovarian.org.uk.

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Tedd Walmsley

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