A doctor on This Morning has shared advice on spotting the signs of ovarian cancer following the release of shocking statistics.
New research has found the awareness of ovarian cancer is ‘disappointingly low’, prompting fears that women could be diagnosed too late and ‘die needlessly’.
The report found that the warning signs of the disease – such as bloating, abdominal pain and weight loss, are frequently mistaken for common conditions like cystitis or IBS.
Ovarian cancer kills around a third of women in the first year after diagnosis and is often diagnosed in the late stages.
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There are around 7,500 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK every year.
Following the release of the report from the charity Target Ovarian Cancer, Holly Willoughby and Phillip Schofield were joined on the program by Dr Nighat who spoke about the symptoms to look out for, who’s at risk, and how people can get the best help if they ‘re concerned they’re suffering symptoms.
“Anyone with ovaries is at risk of getting ovarian cancer,” Dr. Nighat began. “The risk increases with age but that’s not to say younger women can’t get ovarian cancer and that’s the most important message to put out there.”
She also explained that the risk can also be increased if you have an inherited gene, had radiotherapy for other cancers, have suffered or are coping with endometriosis, have been diagnosed with diabetes, plus other lifestyle factors.
Holly asked Dr Nighat how dangerous it is to which she replied that it is dangerous because the symptoms are ‘very non-specific’ and ‘get missed’.
Discussing the symptoms, Dr Nighat pointed out persistent bloating, which lasts around three weeks or longer, feeling full quite quickly, a loss of appetite, loss of weight that hasn’t been intentional, constipation, and frequently passing water.
She also mentioned that for those going through menopause, vaginal bleeding is often a symptom that gets missed.
Discussing how those symptoms can be missed due to them crossing over so easily into other diagnoses’, Dr Nighat said: “I, as a GP because I do women’s health, would say have a high level of suspicion of index to say maybe this could be ovarian cancer.”
Holly asked if someone is watching at home and recognizes them symptoms in themselves, how soon they should visit a doctor.
“Usually I would say anything that doesn’t feel right to you but three weeks is a good indicator,” Dr Nighat replied before suggesting keeping a symptom diary.
Dr Nighat also acknowledged that getting access to a GP is difficult following two years of coronavirus restrictions resulting in backlogs.
But she told viewers what they should say to see a doctor urgently, and said she gave ‘everyone permission’ to do it.
“If you’re phoning reception, if you say to the receptionist, ‘I’m having bloating and I think it might be ovarian cancer,” have the confidence to say that because that will flag up to the receptionist to flag it up to the doctor and then we’ll have that conversation,” Dr Nighat advised.
The segment on This Morning comes ahead of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in March.
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George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.