Annabel asked me to write about Ovarian cancer this week, as devastatingly this condition has affected some of her friends and family. There are around 20 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each day in the UK. As it affects the ovaries (organs that store eggs in women), and other organs nearby, it can affect anyone who has ovaries and fallopian tubes, including women over 50 years old, transgender men and people who were female at birth.
Ovarian cancer is usually a cancer that is picked up late, as the symptoms it causes can be confused with other common conditions. Symptoms can include bloating of the abdomen, feeling tired, bleeding from the vagina after the menopause, a reduced appetite or feeling full quickly after eating, change in your urine such as an urgent need to pass urine or needing to go more than usual, pain in the stomach and back pain. As these symptoms can be associated with other conditions, it is why ovarian cancer has a delayed diagnosis. However, if ovarian cancer is picked up early, then it can be more treatable.
Patients often ask if there is anything they can do to reduce their risk of getting ovarian cancer, as we currently do not know what causes it. There are risk factors that can be associated with the chance of developing ovarian cancer, such as being overweight, if you are a smoker, having a family history of ovarian cancer, having diabetes, endometriosis, your age, cases are found more frequently in women over the age of 65 years old, hormonal factors such as hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and a previous history of breast cancer.
If your GP is concerned about your symptoms, they may offer you an internal pelvic examination, and refer you for a specific blood test called the cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) which can spot proteins made by ovarian cancer and an ultrasound scan. If there is a concern regarding cancer, your NHS GP will refer you urgently under the urgent cancer care pathway where you will be seen at the hospital for further examination and tests.
If you are concerned about your risk and want to talk to your GP about how you may be affected by ovarian cancer or if you are concerned about any symptoms that you have, I would encourage you to make an appointment to discuss this further.
Dr. Hana Patel BSc MBBS FRCGP MSc (Med Ed) ILM7
The Beulah Private Clinic
NHS and Private Senior General Practitioner (FRCGP) https://www.topdoctors.co.uk/doctor/hana-patel (for remote consultations)
Mental Health and Life Coach ILM7– for a coaching appointment- either face to face in my South London private office or remotely, please email me directly at email@example.com
You can read more articles from our resident in-house medic, Dr Hana Patel, here