The month of March sees leading charities join together in order to raise awareness for Ovarian cancer; the symptoms, ongoing research and the support that exists for those experiencing it first hand.
It has been well documented that the Covid pandemic has had an impact on both cancer referrals and treatment. However, a recent study has shown that almost half of people did not contact their GP at all despite experiencing potential cancer symptoms . As the pandemic has made diagnosing ovarian cancer harder, it is more important than ever to spread awareness.
About Ovarian Cancer
Every day, 20 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer across the UK and, with 1 in 52 women being diagnosed in their lifetime, it is the sixth most common cancer in women. When it is detected at an early stage, the prognosis is good. 90% of people will survive for five years or more however, this reduces significantly to less than 20% when diagnosis comes at a later stage.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer and it cannot be detected by a smear test. Diagnosis therefore relies upon referral to a gynaecological expert by your GP.
There are several different types of ovarian cancer that originate from a variety of cells and tissue. Your age can impact upon your susceptibility to these different types of ovarian tumour and, although ovarian cancer is more common in women over 50, younger women can be affected too.
The good news is that ovarian cancer survival rates are improving thanks to the work of charities and an increased awareness, however late diagnosis and treatment continues to be a problem.
Symptoms will be frequent, persistent and not normally experienced by you. The main symptoms are:
• persistent bloating
• Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite
• Pelvic or abdominal pain
• Urinary symptoms – needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual
However other less common symptoms can include:
• Changes in bowel habit eg. diarrhoea or constipation
• Extreme fatigue
• Unexplained weight loss
• Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP
There is a misconception among both the public and some GPs that ovarian cancer is a ‘silent disease’ and that symptoms only present in the later stages of the cancer. This is not true, with a majority of those who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer experiencing at least one of the main symptoms as set out above.
Delayed diagnosis can mean that an individual is too ill to undergo the invasive surgery and chemotherapy required to treat the cancer. These women are left with no choice but to accept palliative care . Diagnosis therefore relies upon women and GPs being aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and knowing the importance of urgent referral.
If you feel you have experienced a delay in your diagnosis of ovarian cancer and this has negatively impacted your prognosis, you may have a clinical negligence claim. If you would like to discuss your concerns further, please contact our experienced team at Williamsons Solicitors on 01482 323697.