What are the signs of ovarian cancer?
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Ovarian cancer targets the two small organs that store the eggs needed to make babies. “Although ovarian cancer is still considered relatively rare, it remains the sixth most common cancer in females,” said Chloe Cruickshank, Specialist Cancer Nurse at Perci Health. The expert also shared the tell-tale signs that make the condition “more challenging to diagnose”.
When you sit down in front of a home-cooked meal after a long day, the last thing you want to experience is no appetite.
While everyone can feel a bit less hungry at times, Cruickshank warned that a lack of appetite could be a sign of ovarian cancer.
The NHS also notes that not feeling hungry can be often accompanied by feeling full quickly after eating.
As symptoms like these are often linked to other non-cancerous condition, ovarian cancer can be hard to pick up.
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Cruickshank said: “While pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding are common, ovarian cancers are typically more challenging to diagnose.
“This is because the other symptoms of ovarian cancer (bloating, feeling full quickly and change in bowel and bladder habit) often mimic some non-cancerous conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
“As a result, women with ovarian cancer experiencing these symptoms, will sadly take many months to get a diagnosis.”
The NHS explains that one telling for symptoms of ovarian cancer is experiencing them about 12 or more times a month.
To easily remember what to look for, an ovarian cancer charity Ovacome came up with an acronym.
Using the word BEAT, you’re looking for signs, including:
- B – for bloating that does not come and go, it is usually constant
- E – for eating difficulties and feeling full quicker than usual
- A – for abdominal and pelvic pain which is present most days
- T – for toilet changes in bowel and urination habits.
The NHS stresses to see a GP if you suffer from any symptoms of ovarian cancer.
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Furthermore, it’s not just non-cancerous conditions that show similar signs. Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer also overlap with other cancers.
Cruickshank said: “Ovarian cancer and cervical cancer share two symptoms; pelvic pain and vaginal bleeding.
“However, most cases of cervical cancer are linked to the human papillomavirus (HPV) and ovarian cancer has no association with this.
“The incidence of HPV has led to national vaccination and screening programmes globally in a bid to reduce cases.
“This makes cervical cancer less common than ovarian cancer with around 3,200 new cases diagnosed between 2016 and 2018.”
While there’s no formal national screening programme for ovarian cancer in the UK, there are different treatment options.
The expert added: “Treatment for ovarian cancer usually includes a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.
“If you or someone you love is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, all decisions and recommendations made about treatment are discussed within a multidisciplinary team (MDT) meeting.”
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