Persistent Stomach Bloating can be a Sign of Ovarian Cancer

20 February 2018    by - Dr Pandelis Athanasias

According to the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, only one-third of women say they would visit their GP if they experienced a major symptom of ovarian cancer – persistent bloating.

A YouGov survey found that of 1,142 women questioned, a staggering 34% of these would not see their doctor if they felt constantly bloated, instead deciding to change their diet by cutting out Gluten or eating probiotic yoghurt.

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries, which is one of the most common types of cancer in women. It usually affects those over the age of 55 who have been through the menopause, though it can occur at any age.

There are several common symptoms of ovarian cancer, which include:

  • Feeling constantly bloated
  • A swollen stomach
  • Pelvic pain or abdominal pain
  • Feeling full quickly or loss of appetite
  • Bladder problems e.g. needing to pee often or urgently
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Changes in bowel movement e.g. constipation or diarrhoea

See your GP as soon as possible

Early diagnosis is often difficult, as many women mistake their symptoms for common conditions with similar traits, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Consequently, around two-thirds of women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at the later stages, once the disease has already spread, making it more difficult to treat. As such, you should never ignore warning signs and should see your GP as soon as you feel like something isn’t quite right.

Better education is vital

With 11 women dying every day in the UK from ovarian cancer, the charity has urged for better awareness surrounding its symptoms. Annwen Jones, Target Ovarian Cancer’s chief executive argued that there is a much better chance of saving lives “if women know ovarian cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating and are able to link them to ovarian cancer early on”.

A previous study by the charity found that only 1 in 5 women could identify persistent bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer, which is of course, shockingly low for such a serious disease. With better education and awareness, women can learn to easily detect signs of ovarian cancer before it’s too late.

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – sign up here to start making noise today.

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