Persistent bloating, pelvic and tummy pain, dodgy bowels, plus nausea and/or a loss of appetite – sounds like a classic case of PMS, right? Or maybe the textbook symptoms of IBS?
Well, not necessarily and not always.
While many of us may suffer with these bothersome body problems from time to time – especially around the time of our period (or after a spicy curry even) – these are also the four main symptoms that are seen in women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. And forgive us for freaking out over this fact, but because these warning signs are often overlooked, ignored, or difficult to recognise in the early stages, lots of women aren’t being diagnosed with ovarian cancer until the disease has spread. Not. Cool.
According to The Eve Appeal, the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – ovarian, womb, cervical, vaginal and vulval – over 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in this country, making it the sixth most prevalent cancer among women. It is most common after the menopause, but can affect women of any age.
And recent findings from the 2018 Every Woman study by the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition, show that global ovarian cancer figures are set to rise by a whopping 55% in the next 20 years, proving that so much more needs to be done to improve poor diagnoses and global survival rates – currently at 30% to 50%.
Ovarian cancer is seriously lagging behind breast cancer, which in contrast has a 10-year survival rate of 78% – a figure that’s nearly doubled over the last decade. Unfortunately, there have been far fewer breakthroughs in the diagnoses and treatment of ovarian cancer.
Athena Lamnisos, Chief Executive of The Eve Appeal, said: "This is a cancer that really does need all the help it can get in the fight to get it the awareness and funding it deserves. Survival rates are low, treatment options are limited and diagnosis often comes late. We must make sure that women feel empowered to speak out about the disease – with friends, family and healthcare professionals."