For many of us, bloating is something that regularly happens to our bodies. Especially if we’ve consumed a lot of sodium during the week or added more cheese to our meals than we normally would.
However, what happens when the bloating doesn’t go away? Perhaps your first response is to cut dairy out of your diet or load up on probiotics – after all, bloating is caused by the digestive system, right?
While it’s true that most of the causes of persistent bloating are triggered by what we put in our body, it’s also sometimes a sign of ovarian cancer. Don’t worry if you didn’t know – research has shown that just 1 in 5 women are able to identify persistent bloating as a symptom.
New research from UK charity, Target Ovarian Cancer, has shown that only a third of women would seek medical attention if they experienced bloating for longer than three weeks. With 60% of women diagnosed at later stages, it’s time to change the conversation about cancer and get women informed.
Target Ovarian Cancer is on a mission to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer in an effort to get women to visit their GP instead of the fridge when symptoms arise.
What is ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a disease occurring from the cells in and around the ovary and fallopian tube. It kills up to 4,100 women in the UK each year and 14,070 American women.
The cancer primarily affects women over 50 who have been through the menopause, but it can also affect younger women.
What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
Unfortunately, symptoms aren’t as overt as other cancers such as breast or skin, so it’s important to recognize the subtle ones. They include:
• Persistent bloating (between two and three weeks)
• Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
• Pelvic or abdominal pain
• Frequent urination
• Menstrual changes
• Pain during intercourse
• Extreme fatigue
These are all things that could happen due to other illness or just day-to-day life. However, if you find symptoms are persisting for longer than two weeks, it’s time to talk to your doctor.
It’s probably not cancer, but scheduling in an appointment and asking if it could be your ovaries might just save your life.
– RELATED: What You Need To Know About Cervical Cancer –
How you are diagnosed
If your doctor suspects your symptoms are due to ovarian cancer, a blood test will be recommended. The blood test will check for a substance called CA125 which is produced by some ovarian cancer cells.
If the test finds a high level of CA125, you’ll be referred for an ultrasound scan to check for possible causes. However, having a high level of CA125 in your blood may be caused by other things such as fibroids, endometriosis or even pregnancy.
– RELATED: IUDs May Reduce The Risk Of Cervical Cancer –
What does treatment involve?
Most women have a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. While the aim of treatment is to cure the cancer, if it’s too advanced, treatment will aim to relieve symptoms and control the cancer for as long as possible.
Surgery usually involves removing both ovaries and the fallopian tubes, the womb and a layer of fatty tissue in the tummy
If the cancer is in just one or both ovaries, you may be able to avoid having the womb removed, meaning you may still be able to have children.
Just like with any cancer, keeping in tune with your body is the best first. By regularly checking in with yourself and refusing to ignore symptoms, you’re more likely to catch anything that may occur at an early stage.
It’s also important to be honest and confident with your doctor. If you feel they aren’t taking your concerns seriously, it may be time to go seek a second opinion from another health professional or insist that you are given the tests you need.
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