Millions of women are at risk of developing ovarian cancer as they are unaware of one of the key warning symptoms, a charity has warned.
Target Ovarian Cancer says the lack of knowledge is “unacceptable” and greater awareness of the symptoms could help women to get early diagnosis – and potentially save lives.
The key warning sign
The charity warned that as few as one in five British women know that bloating is one of the key warning signs of ovarian cancer.
As well as feeling constantly bloated, the NHS advises to look out for these other common symptoms:
- a swollen tummy
- discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
- feeling full quickly when eating
- needing to pee more often than normal
These symptoms can often be hard to recognise, as they are very similar to other more common conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
Women are advised to see a GP if they:
- have been feeling bloated, particularly more than 12 times per month
- have other symptoms of ovarian cancer that will not go away
- have a family history of ovarian cancer and are worried they may be at higher risk of getting it
Early diagnosis is key
Despite persistent bloating being a key sign of ovarian cancer, the charity warned that just one in three women would see a GP if they experienced such symptoms.
The worrying figures come after it was revealed that one in five women are diagnosed too late to receive any kind of treatment.
The UK has some of the worst survival rates for ovarian cancer in Europe, but if women are diagnosed in the earliest stage they have a 90 per cent chance of surviving over five years.
This figure drops dramatically to 40 per cent by stage two, which is halved again a stage later, making early diagnosis key.
By the final stage, when most women are diagnosed, there is a 95 per cent chance of dying before those five years are over.
Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said improving awareness of the main symptoms is key to ensuring more women are diagnosed early.
She told The Sun: “Early diagnosis is the holy grail in ovarian cancer, and awareness campaigns have the power to save lives.
“It is completely unacceptable that women lack this knowledge.
“I want every person at risk of breast and ovarian cancer to sit up and ask themselves, do I know these symptoms?
“The way things are at the moment in untenable.”