Ovarian Cancer expert advice – how to catch the “silent killer”

Ovarian Cancer expert, University College Hospital London’s Dr Mary McCormack says: “Most women have advanced stage disease at diagnosis and are unfortunately unlikely to be cured.” So what can be done about this?

Cancer of the ovary is the second most common gynaecological cancer in women. In the UK 6,800 new women are diagnosed each year and the key to preventing deaths is to understand the disease better and to spot the symptoms as soon as possible. Dr McCormack has written an article in plain English providing the essential information that post-menopausal women particularly need to be aware of.

Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the “silent killer” as there are rarely any symptoms before the cancer spreads beyond the ovary. This means that by the time medical help is sought over 75% of women will have advanced disease. So what are the warning signs?

  • Some women may be aware of a lump in the tummy which may be uncomfortable.
  • For most women the changes are subtle - an expanding waistline despite a loss of appetite, weight loss especially noticeable on face and limbs and bloating - symptoms often erroneously attributed, by the patient, to the change in life (i.e. menopause).
  • The most common symptom of advanced disease is abdominal pain.
  • Some women may experience a change in bowel habit –new onset constipation or diarrhoea often resulting in a referral to a bowel specialist.

Click here for full information or if you are worried and need help.

Relating to the abdomen, which is the region of the body between the chest and the pelvis. Full medical glossary
A common name for the large and/or small intestines. Full medical glossary
Abnormal, uncontrolled cell division resulting in a malignant tumour that may invade surrounding tissues or spread to distant parts of the body. Full medical glossary
a common condition where stools are not passed as frequently as normal Full medical glossary
The process of determining which condition a patient may have. Full medical glossary
When bowel evacuation happens more often than usual, or where the faeces are abnormally liquid. Full medical glossary
Relating to the menopause, the time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle. Full medical glossary

The time of a woman’s life when her ovaries stop releasing an egg (ovum) on a monthly cycle, and her periods cease

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relating to the ovaries Full medical glossary