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Ovarian cancer month

20 March 2013

Health Care

March is ovarian cancer month and Southend University Hospital wants to raise the profile of this serious disease.

The UK has one of the worst survival rates in Europe for this type of cancer. Symptoms can often be mistaken for other medical problems and three quarters of woman are only diagnosed once the cancer has spread.

Sufferers experience persistent bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain, urinary and/or bowel problems and difficulty in eating. 30 percent of sufferers are misdiagnosed with irritable bowel syndrome.

There is no single test that clearly identifies this type of cancer. Women with symptoms can have a CA125 blood test which measures protein in the blood. High levels could indicate ovarian cancer but could also mean ovarian cysts or endometriosis. If high levels are found, a follow up scan will take place to detect the problem.

Every year during ovarian cancer month, consultant gynaecological oncologist Mr Khalil Razvi tries to raise awareness of this type of cancer. He recently held a meeting for local GPs which was well attended, advising them on the symptoms to look out for.

He said: "Raising symptom awareness in the primary care community, as well as amongst the general public is one of the key tasks identified in battling this disease."

COPES (Cervical, Ovarian, Perineal, Endometrial Support) is a local support group for women with gynaecological cancers. The aims of COPES are patient support, raising awareness, research and education. It is fully supported by Mr Razvi and his team of clinical nurse specialists at the hospital.

Southend University Hospital is the cancer centre for South Essex. The oncology services at the hospital diagnose and treat cancer in its various forms as well as providing general cancer treatment, including radiotherapy and chemotherapy.