As part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we are asking women in Derby to be aware of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and to share guidance on what to do if they are worried about their risk.

Over 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK and this figure is expected to rise by 15% by 2035. If it is diagnosed at the earliest stage of ovarian cancer, your chance of surviving for over five years is 90 per cent. This decreases to 46 per cent when it is diagnosed at a later stage and yet less than a third of women in the UK are confident they know the symptoms.

If you have any of the symptoms below and they happen on most days for 3 weeks or more, particularly if you are over 50 or have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, it is worth going to your GP and getting a check up

  • Persistent pelvic or abdominal pain (that’s your tummy and below)
  • Increased abdominal size or persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual

Occasionally there can be other symptoms such as changes in bowel habits, extreme fatigue (feeling very tired), unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite. Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are frequent (they usually happen more than 12 times a month) and persistent. The symptoms can be mistaken for another condition such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). You may find it helpful to keep a Symptom Diary and you should talk to your GP if you still feel concerned after your check-up.

Lifestyle factors remain a significant contributor to your risk of developing any type of cancer. In particular breast feeding can reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. A healthy diet, increasing your exercise and reducing alcohol and smoking can all also help you to live well for longer.

Derby City Council’s Livewell team can help you make the choices that are right for you.

If you would like to know more please visit the Livewell website.