What you need to know about ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer can present with vague symptoms, such as:
Persistent bloating – many women wonder why they have put on weight and cannot lose it
Difficulty eating/feeling full more quickly – resulting in weight loss more noticeable in arms and legs
Needing to pass urine more frequently
Changes in bowel habit
Tiredness for no reason
The vast majority of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at an advanced stage (stage 3 or 4) due to the fact that symptoms are non-specific and the cancer has spread by the time the cancer is diagnosed. Despite this ovarian cancer can be cured due to a combination of surgery and chemotherapy. Whether you receive surgery or chemotherapy first depends on a number of factors. These include fitness for an operation, where the cancer has spread to, and your preference.
All ovarian tumours are tested for the presence of BRCA mutation, which is hereditary. The significance of testing is that, if positive, there are more drug treatments available in addition to standard chemotherapy.
Unfortunately, unlike cervical, breast and bowel cancer, there is no effective screening tool for ovarian cancer. If you persistently have symptoms it is important to see your GP who will typically perform a tumour marker blood test called CA125. If this is raised your GP will refer you to a gynaecologist and for an ultrasound scan. Some GPs will be able to request a CT scan directly.