Early diagnosis for ovarian cancer saves lives – that’s the message from the cancer nurses at East Surrey Hospital.
March is ovarian cancer awareness month and Macmillan clinical nurse specialists Jo Humpherson and Liz Darragh have been busy handing out information and talking to visitors, patients and staff to highlight some of the common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer – the UK’s fifth most common cancer in women.
Jo said: “In our experience, women newly diagnosed with ovarian cancer have often had symptoms for many months. Unfortunately, their diagnosis is often delayed due to the vagueness of symptoms which means we are seeing women at a later stage of disease in our clinic. It is really important that women seek earlier medical advice if they experience persistent symptoms listed in the *BEAT campaign (Ovacome)”.
Often symptoms are difficult to detect and commonly cases are diagnosed at a late stage and once the cancer has already spread, making treatment more difficult. Over 90% of cases are in women over the age of 45. There is no UK screening programme and so it is important that people are aware of some of the common signs and symptoms as early diagnosis saves lives.
Ovarian cancer can be devastating if diagnosed in the later stages. However, when a woman is diagnosed in the early stage, the chance of survival for five years or more doubles from 46 per cent to over 90 per cent.
Ovacome’s * BEAT campaign is part of a nationwide initiative to help recognise the signs promote awareness by using an easy to remember acronym:
- B is for bloating – persistent bloating that does not come and go
- E is for eating – difficulty eating and feeling full more quickly
- A is for abdominal – pelvic / abdominal pain you feel most of the time
- T is for talking – tell your GP
Anyone who is persistently experiencing any of these symptoms should contact their GP.
Ovarian cancer statistics:
- About 7000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK;
- It is the 2nd most common gynaecological cancer;
- Around 10% of cases have a genetic/inherited link;
- Around 75% of women have advanced disease at diagnosis;
- There is no screening programme at present;
- Smear tests do not detect ovarian cancer.
For further information about ovarian cancer visit: http://www.ovacome.org.uk or contact their freephone support line 0800 008 7054.
*Ovacome is a registered charity established in 1996 with over 5,000 members that provides support and information for women affected by ovarian cancer, their families and friends.