“The symptoms of ovarian cancer are very subtle, so the onus is on women to be aware of any changes in their bodies and to seek advice. And, importantly, to keep going back to their GP if their symptoms persist.
A key symptom is abdominal bloating and distention - if you have this more than 12 times a month then see your GP.
Other symptoms include:
- feeling full easily
- loss of appetite
- needing to wee more frequently and more urgently
- weight loss
- dyspepsia, especially at nighttime (indigestion)
Keep a diary of your symptoms and take this with you to your GP appointment.
You should be given a blood test to check for a protein called CA125. A raised level of CA125 doesn’t always mean you have ovarian cancer as it can also indicate other conditions such as endometriosis, fibroids, pelvic inflammatory disease and pregnancy. Likewise, if the blood test comes back normal but you are still having the symptoms, go back to your GP as you may need to be tested again.
If your CA125 level is raised, you'll be referred for an ultrasound scan within two weeks.
If you are over 40 years of age, be aware if you are given a diagnosis of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) This is highly unlikely in women aged 40-plus, so go back to your GP for a second opinion if symptoms continue.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer, so the responsibility lies with women to seek an early diagnosis if they are having symptoms - if ovarian cancer is caught early, the survival rate is 90%. “