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GPs are encouraging women in Greenwich to recognise the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer to help improve diagnosis and save lives as part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2018 (1 - 31 March).

Research suggests that just three per cent of women are very confident in spotting the symptoms of ovarian cancer. These symptoms can be difficult to recognise, but most commonly include:

  • feeling constantly bloated
  • a swollen tummy
  • discomfort in your tummy or pelvic area
  • feeling full quickly when eating
  • needing to pee more often than normal

Occasionally there can be other symptoms, such as:

  • changes in bowel habits
  • extreme fatigue
  • unexplained weight loss
  • vaginal bleeding – particularly after the menopause

Women should see their GP if they've been feeling bloated most days for the past three weeks and have symptoms that won't go away. Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.

Most at risk are those over 50 who have experienced the menopause and have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. However, women of all ages can reduce their risk of developing the disease by keeping weight to healthy levels and stopping smoking.

Dr Ellen Wright, a local GP and chair of NHS Greenwich Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), said:

"Two-thirds of women are diagnosed once ovarian cancer has already spread. It's essential that women feel confident in spotting the symptoms and visit their GP right away - the earlier ovarian cancer is identified and treated, the greater the likelihood of survival.

"Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month helps us highlight the signs of ovarian cancer - so that women know exactly what they're looking for - and encourage healthier lifestyle choices to reduce their risk of developing the condition."

See NHS Choices for more information on the causes and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and how to reduce your risk.