Ovarian cancer – spot the signs

An estimated 90% of women don’t know the four main signs of ovarian cancer. Do you?


There have been such great strides in cancer treatment in our lifetimes. According to Cancer Research UK, cancer survival in the UK has doubled in the last forty years, and nowadays, more than 50% of us will go on to live ten years or more following a diagnosis.

Earlier detection, effective screening and improved treatments have all been instrumental in this, as has greater awareness of the signs and symptoms of cancer. We’re also much more proactive now when looking after ourselves – for example, checking our breasts regularly for lumps, and attending regular smear tests.

There are four main symptoms to look out for

One cancer which I’ve never known much about is ovarian cancer. Like so many things, you often only find yourself learning about it when it affects you, or someone you know. This summer, a friend passed away after a brave fight against ovarian cancer, at the age of only 52. Often occurring after the menopause, there are four main symptoms to look out for –

  1. Difficulty eating, and feeling full more quickly.
  2. Persistent bloating and increased abdominal size.
  3. Persistent pain in the tummy, pelvic area or lower abdomen.
  4. Needing to wee more often.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that if you have these symptoms on twelve or more occasions a month, you should ask your GP to arrange tests, especially if you’re over 50.

Unexplained tiredness, a loss of appetite, weight loss, and changes in your bowel movements (which may seem similar to irritable bowel syndrome) can all be warning signs, too.

If symptoms are persistent and unusual for you, get them checked out

It’s important to stress that all these symptoms can also be signs of other, less serious conditions, but if you’ve noticed any, or have any other persistent symptoms that are not usual for you, it’s a good idea to get them checked out. Please don’t worry about ‘bothering’ your doctor –  a genuine medical concern is never a waste of time. If it turns out to be nothing, then no harm done. And if something is amiss, the sooner treatment starts, the better the outlook.


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Lucy Crichton

Fiction Editor Lucy is always on the look-out for the very best short stories, poems and pocket novels. As well as sourcing enjoyable content, she enjoys working with our established contributors, encouraging new talent, and celebrating 155 years of 'Friend' fiction!