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With World Ovarian Cancer Day on 8th May, women campaigning against the ‘silent killer’ have urged others to become more aware of the disease.
Although the aim of World Ovarian Cancer Day is to raise awareness, both charities and campaigners have spoken out that awareness still isn’t high enough in the UK.
Una Crudden from West Belfast is campaigning for higher awareness and quicker diagnoses, after she was originally misdiagnosed.
“My GP told me I had irritable bowel syndrome” she said, “By the time I went back to a doctor two months later, I had swollen so much that I looked like I was heavily pregnant with twins. The tumour was 13 inches, and had spread to my pelvis. I could feel it sticking into my bones, nothing could be done. Then I decided to spread awareness about the signs of ovarian cancer.”
Every year, around 6,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK. It’s the fifth most common cancer among women after breast cancer, bowel cancer, lung cancer and cancer of the uterus. Healthcare professionals are urging women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to seek medical help from a GP if they experience any.
Dr Miriam McCarthy, consultant in Public Health Medicine said, “Ovarian cancer is more common in women over the age of 50 and affects around 150 women in Northern Ireland alone each year, but all too often it is diagnosed late, which has an impact on chances of survival. We are calling on women to make themselves familiar with the early symptoms and to see their doctor if they experience any of them. The earlier ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the better the chances of a positive outcome.”
Symptoms can be similar to those of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), however, there are three main symptoms which are recurrent in most ovarian cancer patients: