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Only a third of women with regular bloating would see their GP

Bloating can be symptom of ovarian cancer, warn experts

Adrian O'Dowd

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Experts are warning that women with regular bloating should go and see their GP in case it is a symptom of ovarian cancer.

The warning came after charity Target Ovarian Cancer released details of research that showed when faced with the prospect of persistent bloating, many women opt to do things like eat more probiotic yoghurts or cut out gluten, rather than visit their GP.

There are around 7,400 new ovarian cancer cases in the UK every year and it is the sixth most common cancer in women. Around 4,100 women die every year from ovarian cancer in the UK.

When asked what action they would take if they were concerned about regular bloating, 50% of 1,142 UK women questioned by YouGov for the charity said they would do something with their diet, whereas only around a third (34%) said they would see a doctor.

Previous research* by the charity has shown that only a fifth of women can name persistent bloating as a symptom of ovarian cancer.

The new research also showed that women over 55 – who are most likely to develop ovarian cancer – were least likely to look up their symptoms on the internet, leaving them at risk of a delayed diagnosis.

Only 34% of women over 55-year-olds would do this, compared to almost two thirds of 18-24-year-olds (64%).

The charity said raising awareness was the first critical step to ensure that women knew the potential significance of continued bloating and to seek medical advice.

This lack of awareness meant that women were not visiting their GP promptly, not being sent for the correct ovarian cancer tests quickly, and risked missing out on an early diagnosis.

The charity has launched its TAKE OVAR campaign to raise awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer in the lead up to Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “A probiotic yoghurt should not be preventing a woman from visiting the GP promptly if something is worrying her.

“Women should not be risking their lives because of the enduring awareness gap around the symptoms of ovarian cancer. If women know ovarian cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating and are able to link them to ovarian cancer early on, lives will be saved.”

*Transforming futures for women with ovarian cancer. Target Ovarian Cancer Pathfinder. (2016).

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