Ovarian cancer

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month - what's the campaign about?

We think pharmacists have the potential to play a greater role in the early detection of cancer. Raising awareness and talking to patients about symptoms of ovarian cancer really can save lives because it can result in earlier diagnosis and better treatment options.

6,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in the UK and 4,400 women die of the disease each year. That is 12 women every day.

March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society works with the charity Ovacome to raise awareness of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and the importance of early detection and diagnosis. We are also focusing on reinforcing the vital role community pharmacists play in the early detection of ovarian cancer

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer can be difficult to detect and diagnose because its signs and symptoms can indicate other more common and less serious conditions, such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS). However, the three most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are;

• Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain.
• Increased abdominal size and/or persistent bloating
• Difficulty eating and feeling full more quickly

Some women may also experience;

• Changes in bladder habits, such as urinary frequency or urgency
• Changes in bowel habits
• Extreme fatigue
• Unexplained weight loss
• Back pain

Any woman persistently experiencing one or more of the above symptoms should seek advice from their GP.

Pharmacist and customer

 Early diagnosis saves lives

75% of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at stages three and four when their cancer has spread outside the abdomen. This is because some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those seen in more common and less serious illnesses.  If detected earlier, women with ovarian cancer can be treated successfully.

In a poll of women suffering from ovarian cancer, 57% of them had never heard of the disease before their diagnosis. It is vital that people know more about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

If diagnosed at an early stage, ovarian cancer can be treated effectively.

Useful information

The Society works with experts from the ovarian cancer support network, Ovacome. Visit the Ovacome website or phone 0845 371 0554 for support provided by qualified nurses.