Confusion around ovarian cancer signs

  • Olivia Fens

Confusion about the symptoms of ovarian cancer is causing unnecessary deaths from the disease, a new report suggests.

More than 200 women die from ovarian cancer in Ireland each year and approximately 330 new cases are diagnosed annually.

The study, which was carried out by the UK charity Target Ovarian Cancer, found that 80% of GPs wrongly thought that women with early-stage ovarian cancer did not have symptoms.

Less than 2% of the 400 GPs surveyed knew that difficulty eating and a feeling of fullness were important symptoms.

Furthermore, almost two-thirds of the GPs were not aware that a strong history of ovarian cancer on the father’s side of the family puts a woman more at risk

A separate survey of 1,000 women also revealed confusion.

In the study only 4% of the women felt confident in their ability to identify a single symptom of ovarian cancer.

“Change is long overdue and ovarian cancer needs to become a priority,” Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said.

“Our in-depth investigation into the diagnosis, care and treatment of ovarian cancer patients and their healthcare professionals is starting to tell us what can be done to improve the life chances and life quality of women with ovarian cancer.”

According to Target Ovarian Cancer, the key symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
• Persistent pelvic or abdominal pain (tummy and below)
• Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
• Urinary symptoms (needing to pass water more urgently or more often than usual)
• Changes in bowel habit
• Extreme fatigue (feeling very tired)
• Back pain.

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