About 6,800 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK each year, but as yet, there's no national screening programme specifically for this form of the disease. So it's really vital that we all know what the symptoms are and when to go to our GP.
As part of our 'C' Word campaign, Mumsnet has teamed up with Ovarian Cancer Action to raise awareness about the disease - so if you're unsure what the symptoms are, are worried about your chances of developing the disease or already have it and need support, we put your questions to the experts at Ovarian Cancer Action, such as Dr Sarah Blacklidge (pictured).
So if you're experiencing any of these symptoms on most days, do go and see your GP:
- Persistent pelvic and stomach pain
- Increased stomach size
- Persistent bloating
- Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly
Don't panic if you do have any of these symptoms - it's unlikely that they are caused by a serious problem.
But it is important that you tell your GP about them - and have the confidence to ask him or her to consider ovarian cancer as a possible cause.
What causes ovarian cancer?
We still know worryingly little about what causes ovarian cancer - but we do know that women's risk increases with age, and that women with a strong family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer are at increased risk. If you're aged 50 or over, you're most at risk, though younger women can also be affected.
Treating ovarian cancer
The good news is that, if ovarian cancer is diagnosed at an early stage, there's a 90% chance of surviving the disease.
But ovarian cancer often isn't diagnosed until the disease is more advanced, when it is more difficult to treat. And survival rates in the UK are still worryingly low - less than 40% of women diagnosed here will survive five years.
So it's up to us - by being aware of the symptoms, we really can ensure that more women become survivors.
About Ovarian Cancer Action
Ovarian Cancer Action was founded in 2003 by Allyson Kaye, whose mother Helene Harris was diagnosed with ovarian cancer at the age of 46. Like so many other women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, it was months before Helene was diagnosed; and sadly, despite receiving the best medical treatment, she died 18 months later.
Ovarian Cancer Action is now the UK's leading ovarian cancer charity, working to give all women the very best chance of surviving ovarian cancer by raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms, and helping those who are diagnosed to live better with it.
The charity undertakes cutting-edge research at the Ovarian Cancer Action Research Centre at Imperial College, Hammersmith. It also works to give women and health professionals important positive healthcare messages, and helps women with the disease to share their experiences and express their concerns.