Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer in women, according to the NHS. The condition affects the ovaries – a pair of small organs that store a woman’s eggs. You may be at risk of the cancer if you’re over 50 years old, or have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. The most common warning signs of ovarian cancer may be easy to miss – particularly during its earlier stages.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise
Having a persistently bloated stomach could be a warning sign of ovarian cancer, according to charity Target Ovarian Cancer.
While it’s common to feel bloated after eating too much food in one go, bloating that won’t go away should be seen by a doctor.
But you could also be at risk of ovarian cancer if you develop some urinary symptoms, including needing to pass more urine than normal.
“The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to recognise, particularly early on,” said the NHS.
“They’re often the same as symptoms of less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome [IBS] or pre-menstrual syndrome [PMS].
“The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are feeling constantly bloated, a swollen tummy, and needing to pee more often or more urgently than normal.
“See your GP if you’ve been feeling bloated most days for the last three weeks, or if you have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that won’t go away.
“It’s unlikely you have cancer, but it’s best to check. Your GP can do some simple tests for ovarian cancer to see if you might have it.”
You could also be at risk of the condition if you have a persistent stomach pain, or if you you quickly feel full after eating, it added.
But, other ovarian cancer symptoms include a change in your bowel habits, unexplained weight loss, back pain, and vaginal bleeding.
If you have any of these signs, your doctor may carry out an examination, or take a blood sample.
Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer affecting women, and is more likely to develop in post-menopausal women.
Women that haven’t had any children, or are infertile, are some of the most at-risk patients.
Tumours are usually only discovered when the disease is at its later stages, so surgery is often needed to treat the condition, along with chemotherapy.
About half of all women in the UK who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer live for more than five years after diagnosis.
More than 7,000 people are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK every year, according to charity Cancer Research UK.
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