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The major symptoms of ovarian cancer women are ignoring

Women are being urged not to ignore some of the key symptoms of ovarian cancer, after a survey suggested fewer than a fifth would make an urgent doctor’s appointment if they experienced persistent bloating.

Just 17% of women surveyed for research by Target Ovarian Cancer said they would make an appointment within one week if they had bloating for three weeks or more.

Feeling constantly bloated is one of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer, alongside needing to pass urine more often or more urgently than usual.

The charity said the percentage of survey participants who indicated they would make an urgent GP appointment for the latter was also at just 17%.

For symptoms of other cancers, the figures were higher, with almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents saying they would make an urgent appointment for an unexplained lump and 55% for a mole that had changed shape.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of the charity, said: “It is absolutely vital that women know persistent bloating needs to be checked out by a GP.

“The pandemic can make it hard to put ourselves first, and people are worried about putting pressure on the NHS.

“But getting ovarian cancer symptoms checked out promptly and starting treatment quickly makes all the difference.”

GP Dr Alison Wint said cancer “is not going away just because of Covid-19”.

She added: “It’s as important as ever to come forward with urgent cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating, feeling full quickly or loss of appetite, tummy pain, needing to wee more often or more urgently, change in bowel habits or weight loss. Take it seriously and talk to your GP.”

The charity conducted a YouGov online survey of 1,072 women across Great Britain between January 29 and February 1.

Dame Cally Palmer, national cancer director for NHS England, reminded people that the health service is open for anyone with symptoms.

She said: “If you are feeling constantly bloated, needing to go to the toilet more than usual or have any other unusual symptoms, it is crucial you come forward for a check, so that if it is ovarian cancer we can catch and treat it early.

“It is understandable that people have had concerns with coming forward but the NHS is open and ready to see anyone with a concerning symptom – it could save your life.”

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