Ovarian cancer symptoms are often mistaken for other common conditions, and have earned it the nickname “silent killer.” With more than 75 per cent of cases diagnosed at later stages, early detection becomes paramount for improving survival rates.
To tackle this concern, Dr Susanna Unsworth, an NHS Community Gynaecologist, has offered essential insights into subtle ovarian cancer warning signs that one should never disregard.
Each year, approximately 7,400 women in the UK receive a life-changing diagnosis of ovarian cancer, according to data from Cancer Research UK. Despite advances in medical science, ovarian cancer remains a formidable adversary, highlighting the importance of awareness and early detection.
Dr Unsworth underlines that ovarian cancer’s early warning signs can be subtle, and people might mistakenly attribute them to other common conditions. She advises women to be vigilant and consult their General Practitioner (GP) if they experience any of the following symptoms:
In addition to these symptoms, Dr. Unsworth notes that other warning signs of ovarian cancer include:
While these symptoms can often overlap with other common conditions like irritable bowel syndrome, Dr. Unsworth underscores that the crucial factor is whether the symptoms are new, different from one’s usual experiences, or unresponsive to typical treatments. If you experience any of these criteria, seek medical attention.
When discussing these symptoms with a GP, Dr Unsworth suggests expressing concerns about ovarian cancer explicitly. This clarity aids doctors in assessing the situation thoroughly. During the examination, the GP will typically check the abdomen and may conduct a vaginal checkup to detect any ovarian swellings.
In the early stages of ovarian cancer, physical examinations might not reveal any palpable abnormalities because the disease has not yet caused them to develop.
To investigate further, your GP may order additional tests, including:
If any of these tests raise concerns, your GP will likely refer you to a gynaecology specialist for further evaluation. If all tests yield normal, your doctor can suggest alternative approaches to managing your symptoms, with the likelihood of ovarian cancer being extremely low.
While the symptoms of ovarian cancer can often masquerade as other conditions, early detection remains the most potent weapon in the battle against this deadly disease. Dr Susanna Unsworth’s advice is a crucial reminder that vigilance and timely consultation with a healthcare professional can make a difference.