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March is Ovarian Cancer Month in the UK. In the UK 1 in 50 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime and 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. It tends to affect older women, particularly those who are post-menopause but younger women get it too. Women who’ve had breast cancer or where there’s a family history of ovarian cancer are also more at risk, although most cases (8 out of 10) of ovarian cancer are not genetically linked.

Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynaecological cancers, often because it is not diagnosed early enough. If caught early, however, treatment is often successful, with 9 out of 10 women recovering. This is why it is so important for women to know the signs of ovarian cancer and to consult their doctor if they spot them.

The problem is that few women know what signs to look out for, which is why Target Ovarian Cancer is running the ’50’s Challenge’. They want everyone to tell 50 people about the symptoms of ovarian cancer and to raise at least £50 for Target Ovarian Cancer.

So what are the symptoms?

  • Persistent pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Needing to pee more urgently or more often than usual

A change in your bowel habits, feeling very tired, unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite, and unexpected bleeding might also be symptoms.

If these symptoms are frequent (ie more than 12 times per month), persistent or have started within the last 12 months then you should get them checked out by your doctor.

Researchers don’t know what causes ovarian cancer but you can take steps to help reduce the chance of getting it by exercising regularly, watching your weight, eating a well-balanced diet that is high in vegetables and low in sugar, and keeping stress to a minimum.

For more information about ovarian cancer, symptoms and treatment, and the ’50’s Challenge’ visit Target Ovarian Cancer.

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