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March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Dr Aileen McPhilips, Private GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital.

Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer in women in the UK, causing 4,300 deaths every year.  Ovarian cancer usually affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over 50 years old) but can affect younger women. 

Unfortunately, it often presents late - the difficulty is the symptoms are not always easy to recognise because they are similar to many common conditions, for example irritable bowel syndrome.

Symptoms commonly reported include:

If you are experiencing these symptoms PERSISTENTLY (i.e. most days) you need to get checked further.  Following a physical examination, blood tests and an ultrasound scan can be arranged to investigate the problem.

There is currently no national screening programme for ovarian cancer.  Despite extensive research no tests have been found that can give accurate enough results.  It's important to remember that cervical screening does not screen for ovarian cancer, only cervical cancer.

The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown but there are some things that we know may increase your risk of developing it, such as:

Family History: If two or more relatives from the same side of your family have had ovarian cancer under the age of 50 years, or there have been more than one case of ovarian and breast cancer in your family you may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer yourself.  This is because you might have inherited a faulty gene known as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation that increases your risk 35-60%, of developing ovarian cancer.  If this applies to your family, you can undergo genetic screening to determine if you have inherited the BRAC1/2 gene.

If you are concerned it is always best to first arrange an appointment with your GP.  If you are unable to arrange an appointment at a suitable time or if you would like anonymity or a second opinion you can arrange to see a Private GP at Kingsbridge Private Hospital, with same day appointments usually available.

To speak with one of our Private GPs please contact us on 028 90 667 878.

Posted on 02 Mar 2017