AUDIO: Harrogate mum raises awareness of ovarian cancer

AUDIO: Harrogate mum raises awareness of ovarian cancer

Published at 7:00am 2nd March 2016. (Updated at 3:32pm 2nd March 2016)

40% of cases of ovarian cancer in Yorkshire are diagnosed at a late stage when they are generally more difficult to treat, according to new figures from Yorkshire Cancer Research.

The charity is encouraging women to be more aware of the symptoms of the disease as part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place throughout March.

549 women in Yorkshire were diagnosed with ovary or fallopian tube cancer in 2013, whilst 317 women in Yorkshire died from the disease in the same year.

There are currently around 3,400 women living with or beyond ovarian cancer in Yorkshire.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Increased abdominal size and persistent bloating.
  • Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain.
  • Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly.
  • Needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual.
  • Sometimes, women experience other symptoms such as back pain, fatigue and changes in bowel habits (diarrhoea or constipation).

Kathryn Scott, Head of Research and Innovation at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said: "We know that if a cancer is caught early, it tends to be easier to treat and the chance of survival is much higher. However, a large proportion of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer at Stages 3 and 4, when the tumour may be larger and may have spread to other tissues or organs.

"Unfortunately, early signs of ovarian cancer can be confused with those of other conditions, so it's really important that women are aware of the symptoms and visit their doctor if they experience anything unusual."

The awareness campaign is being backed by mum-of-two Jo Beagley, from Harrogate, who was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer at the age of 39 in 2014.

Jo said: "The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be difficult to spot. For me, the bloating was only noticeable three weeks prior to my diagnosis and the abdominal pain for even less time. However, I still think there’s a considerable communication effort required to raise awareness of these symptoms, particularly because of their similarity to the symptoms of other ailments and the lack of a national screening programme.

"As clichéd as it sounds, we know our bodies best. If you have the sense something isn't right, then consult a health professional. The earlier it's diagnosed, the easier it is to treat successfully."

Yorkshire Cancer Research recently announced that early diagnosis will be one of four major programmes of funding during 2016.

National leaders and local experts attended a workshop at the charity's headquarters in January to discuss practical ideas and solutions which will improve the early diagnosis of cancer in Yorkshire.