(CTN News) – The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be subtle, such as bloating, back pain, or the need to go to the toilet during the night, a gynecologist warns.
Approximately half of all cases in the UK occur in women over the age of 50, with more than half in those aged 65 and older. However, anyone with ovaries can be affected and it sometimes runs in families.
Health service officials say ovarian cancer is often diagnosed late because the symptoms aren’t always obvious.
Dr Susanna Unsworth told The Mirror that the disease does not usually present symptoms until it has progressed. The gynecologist urged people who experience these subtle symptoms to consult their doctors, as they could be early signs of ovarian cancer.
There are many subtle symptoms associated with ovarian cancer, according to Dr Unsworth. However, it’s worth checking them out to be sure there’s no underlying problem.”
“Key symptoms” to look out for include bloating, pain, urinary symptoms, and swelling. Symptoms to watch out for include persistent indigestion, changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea), unexplained weight loss, persistent fatigue or abnormal vaginal bleeding.
It’s worth seeing your doctor if you are experiencing new onset bloating, bloating that does not resolve within two to weeks, frequent bloating without a clear trigger, and bloating that does not resolve with usual treatments or diet changes, Dr Unsworth advised.
In addition, the expert advised patients not to ignore “new pains in the pelvis, the back, or the lower abdomen that do not subside quickly”. A more frequent urination or waking up in the middle of the night to pass urine could also be signs of a problem.
Other symptoms may include loss of appetite and feeling full after eating. A lump or swelling in the lower abdomen or pelvis should be seen by your GP if you notice it, although this would be an “unusual” early sign.
Gynecologist suggested telling your GP that you are concerned about ovarian cancer if you make an appointment with them. Having a clear understanding of your concerns is helpful to me as a doctor. Then I can assess the problem and make sure whatever treatment is given has answered your concerns,” she explained.
During your doctor’s visit, Dr Unsworth said: “Your doctor is likely to want to examine you after discussing the symptoms.” The examination will include an examination of your tummy, as well as an internal vaginal examination, as this is the best way to check for swellings around your ovaries.
The examination may be normal in early ovarian cancer, as there may not yet be anything to feel. Therefore, your doctor may arrange other tests such as a pelvic ultrasound or a Ca125 blood test to detect tumour markers.”
In addition, your GP may also arrange other tests because the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague and overlap with others. It might involve other blood tests to determine if you are suffering from inflammation or fatigue, or it could also involve a poo test to determine if there are any bowel problems.