Health

Persistent bloating could be a sign of ovarian cancer, not a food allergy

February 20th 2018 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru / 0 comment

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Although more commonly associated with food intolerances or gut problems, it can also be a key symptom of ovarian cancer too - yet many of us would be more likely to make changes to our diet than visit our GP, a new poll reveals

Bloating - nearly all of us suffer from it from time to time. However, if persistent, it could be a symptom of something more serious than the aftermath of a heavy meal - and no, we aren’t talking IBS or a gluten allergy here. It’s one of the key signs of ovarian cancer, yet a new survey has revealed the shocking degree that many of us are unaware of this fact.

According to findings from charity, Target Ovarian Cancer, only a third of women would see a doctor if faced with regular bloating (34 per cent of the 1,142 women questioned by YouGov), whereas half would look to manage it by making changes to their diet such as cutting out gluten or eating probiotic yoghurts.

The charity has previously found that only one in five of us can name bloating as one of the disease’s main symptoms and is worried that the “alarmingly low rate of awareness” of the link between persistent bloating and ovarian cancer could be preventing women from being sent for the right tests fast enough.

Ovarian cancer is much more common than many think, including us - a poll in the office this morning revealed that half of us know someone who suffers/has suffered from it. About 7,300 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK and 11 women lose their lives to it each day. Yet due to it not being spotted quickly enough, it often spreads, therefore making it harder to treat. Early diagnosis is key.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “A probiotic yoghurt should not be preventing a woman from visiting the GP promptly if something is worrying her.

“Women should not be risking their lives because of the enduring awareness gap around the symptoms of ovarian cancer. If women know ovarian cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating and are able to link them to ovarian cancer early on, lives will be saved.”

When should you see your doctor?

NHS England recommends that if you’ve been feeling bloated for most days during the last three weeks, you should see your GP.

The bloating should be persistent and not just come and go, says Target Ovarian Cancer. The charity also highlights the below symptoms too. They should be new (not normal for you), not go away and be frequent (usually happen more than 12 times a month).

Feeling full quickly and/or loss of appetite,
Pelvic or abdominal pain,
Urinary symptoms (needing to wee more urgently or more often than usual)

And more occasionally, the following too:

Changes in bowel habit (eg diarrhoea or constipation),
Extreme fatigue,
Unexplained weight loss,
Any bleeding after the menopause should always be investigated by a GP.

For more information on ovarian cancer’s symptoms, causes and available support, visit targetovariancancer.org.uk.

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