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Get savvy with the symptoms of ovarian cancer

Merton Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) is urging women to get savvy with the symptoms of ovarian cancer during March.

During March, the Target Ovarian Cancer charity is running Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, to raise awareness and funds for this condition. Its research suggests that only three per cent of women are very confident of spotting a symptom of ovarian cancer.

Dr Shweta Singh, Merton Macmillan GP and Merton CCG's lead on cancer said:

"Two-thirds of woman are diagnosed once ovarian cancer has already spread. Women can help GPs to reduce avoidable deaths from this serious condition, by getting savvy with the symptoms and seeing their GP if they are worried, and by reducing their risk of developing the disease where they can."

In Merton between 2010 and 2014 there were an average of 23 new ovarian cancer diagnoses for every 100,000 women each year.

According to ovarian cancer charity Target Ovarian Cancer, the symptoms of this disease include the following signs:

  • Persistent bloating - not bloating that comes and goes
  • Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain (that's your tummy and below)
  • Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)

Occasionally there can be other symptoms

  • Changes in bowel habit( eg diarrhoea or constipation)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss

Any bleeding after the menopause should be investigated by a GP

Symptoms will also be:

  • Frequent
  • Persistent-they don't go away
  • New-they are not normal for you

Women who are over the age of 50, who have experienced the menopause and have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer are most at risk of developing the condition. However women of all ages can help reduce their risk by keeping weight to normal levels, stopping smoking and by avoiding the use of talcum powder in intimate areas.

Women who are worried about cancer including ovarian, should see their GP as soon as possible. They may find it helpful to track their symptoms ahead of the appointment using the free ovarian cancer symptom diary available form Target Ovarian Cancer. It will help the GP to know what symptoms you are having and how often, and if they are getting worse. Knowing your family cancer history will also be useful.