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Ovarian cancer symptoms are being ignored, UK charity warns

GPs and women are still ignoring key symptoms of ovarian cancer despite better awareness of the disease, a charity has warned, prompting fears that yet more patients will be diagnosed late and “die needlessly”.

Symptoms include frequently having a swollen tummy or feeling bloated; pain or tenderness in the tummy or the pelvis; having no appetite or feeling full quickly after eating, and an urgent need to pee or needing to pee more often, according to the NHS.

However, Target Ovarian Cancer is concerned that despite successful campaigns to boost awareness of the disease, many are still failing to act on the vital signs. “Key symptoms are being ignored – both by those experiencing them and their GPs,” a spokesperson said.

A poll of 1,000 women for the charity found 79% did not know that bloating was a symptom, while 68% were unaware abdominal pain was a sign, and 97% did not know feeling full was another. Most women (99%) did not know that needing to pee more urgently was also a sign, while evidence suggests women can often be told by their GP that their symptoms are more a symptom of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Target Ovarian Cancer said.

Ovarian cancer kills about a third of women with the disease in the first year after diagnosis, and is often diagnosed in the late stages. There are about 7,500 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK every year.

“These figures are incredibly disappointing,” said Annwen Jones, the chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer. “We know we’ve shifted the dial in the past 10 years through the dedication of thousands of Target Ovarian Cancer’s campaigners, but it is not enough. Knowing the symptoms is crucial for everyone.

“We need to make sustained and large-scale government-backed symptoms campaigns a reality. Progress is possible. If we do this, fewer people will be diagnosed late, fewer will need invasive treatment, and, ultimately, fewer will die needlessly from ovarian cancer.”

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Source: The Guardian, 22 February 2022


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