GPs are encouraging women in Tower Hamlets to recognise the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer to help improve diagnosis and save lives.
The borough’s NHS clinical commissioning group (CCG) is supporting Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2018 (1-31 March), which seeks to raise awareness about the condition so that women know what they’re looking for and see their GP if they notice anything unusual.
In Tower Hamlets, the incidence rates for ovarian cancer were 23 new diagnoses for every 100,000 females per year between 2010 and 2014. This is the same as the England average of 23.
Research suggests that just three per cent of women are very confident of spotting a symptom of ovarian cancer. These can be difficult to recognise, but most commonly include:
- feeling constantly bloated
- a swollen tummy
- discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
- feeling full quickly when eating
- needing to pee more often than normal
Occasionally there can be other symptoms, such as:
- changes in bowel habits
- extreme fatigue
- unexplained weight loss
- vaginal bleeding – particularly after the menopause
Women should see their GP if they’ve been feeling bloated most days for the past three weeks and have symptoms that won’t go away. Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.
Most at risk are those over 50 who have experienced the menopause and have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. However, women of all ages can reduce their risk of developing the disease by keeping weight to healthy levels and stopping smoking.
See NHS Choices for more information on the causes and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and how to reduce your risk.
Dr Tania Anastasiadis, a local GP and Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Tower Hamlets CCG, said:
“Two-thirds of women are diagnosed once ovarian cancer has already spread. It’s essential that women feel confident in spotting the symptoms and visit their GP right away - the earlier ovarian cancer is identified and treated, the greater the likelihood of survival.
“Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month helps us highlight the signs of ovarian cancer - so that women know exactly what they’re looking for - and encourage healthier lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of developing the condition.”
Councillor Denise Jones, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Services, said:
“We are raising awareness of ovarian cancer alongside our health partners as early diagnosis is key to a full recovery.
“As the greatest risks are age and family history, it’s so important to know the symptoms and get checked if it runs in your family. Don’t hesitate speaking to your GP if you’re unsure.”