Ovarian cancer symptoms: The 12 common signs you might be missing

What are the signs of ovarian cancer?

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Ovarian cancer often causes symptoms that could also be attributed to more common and less serious conditions, which makes it tricky to diagnose early. When cancer isn’t diagnosed straight away, it has more of a chance of spreading and becoming deadly. That’s why it’s so important to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer off by heart. Express.co.uk reveals the top 12 common signs to watch out for.

About 20 women, trans men and people assigned female at birth are diagnosed with cancer of the ovary every single day in the UK.

Different kinds of cancer can start in the ovary, but the most common type is called epithelial.

There are different types of epithelial cancer, including serous, mucinous, endometrioid, clear cell and high-grade serous.

Germ cell and borderline tumours are types of cancerous tumours that also form on the ovaries.

We don’t know for certain what causes ovarian cancer, but the risk of developing it increases with age.

In fact, more than half of all cases in the UK are in those aged 65 or over.

You may have a higher chance of developing this kind of cancer if you have inherited a faulty gene, have had breast or bowel cancer, have endometriosis or diabetes, or started your periods at a young age.

If you went through menopause late or have not had a baby, have never used any hormonal contraception, are taking HRT, are overweight, or smoke, you also have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

So, what are the signs to look out for?

According to MacMillan Cancer Support and the NHS, if you have any of the following symptoms for no reason or get them regularly (especially more than 12 times a month), your GP should offer you cancer tests:

  • a long-lasting bloated or swollen tummy
  • loss of appetite or feeling full quickly after eating
  • feeling full quickly when you eat
  • pain or tenderness in the lower tummy area between the hips (pelvis)
  • Pain or tenderness in the back
  • passing urine more often than usual
  • passing urine more urgently (feeling like you can’t hold on)

Other more general symptoms of ovarian cancer could be:

  • a change in your normal bowel habit (diarrhoea or constipation)
  • indigestion
  • weight gain or weight loss (without trying)
  • unexplained or extreme tiredness (fatigue)
  • vaginal bleeding after your menopause

These symptoms are very common and can be caused by many different conditions, including IBS, endometriosis or PMS.

However, the symptoms could still be ovarian cancer and need to be checked by a GP.

Even if it isn’t ovarian cancer, the symptoms are still causing you distress and need to be treated.

If they are caused by cancer, finding it early can mean it’s more treatable and your chances of survival will dramatically increase.

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