Close up of a woman with her hands on her bloated tummy

Bloating: urgent ovarian cancer symptom ignored in lockdown

We're urging women to take this key symptom seriously and go to the GP if they’re worried.

Do you have persistent bloating, but putting off going to the GP? You aren’t alone. We've found that less than 2 in 10 women (17 per cent) would book an emergency GP appointment within a week if they were experiencing persistent bloating. This is a key ovarian cancer symptom.

Lack of awareness 

This number jumps to 50 per cent when it comes to other cancer symptoms such as an unexplained lump, or a mole that's changed shape. This points to a lack of awareness amongst women on the urgent symptoms of ovarian cancer they should be looking out for.    

The pandemic has had an impact on early diagnosis of ovarian cancer, as people think the GP is only open for urgent appointments, and yet don't recognise persistent bloating as urgent. The delay could make them at greater risk of being diagnosed late, when the cancer is harder to treat. 

Take it seriously  

Marie Foord, 49 from Hastings, started to experience bloating in April 2020, and was diagnosed with ovarian cancer during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

Marie, a woman who shared her story with Target Ovarian Cancer

Initially she put off going to the doctor because she was worried about pressures on the NHS. Marie said:

Nobody I know would associate bloating with ovarian cancer, and in fact it never crossed my mind before I was diagnosed. I want people to take it seriously and give your GP a call if you’re concerned. This pandemic can make us all nervous about going to the GP, but our health is so important. My GP was amazing and supportive throughout my diagnosis.

Dr Alison Wint GP and Clinical Lead for Cancer at NHS Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire CCG said:

Cancer is not going away just because of Covid-19. GPs want to know. In fact, 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.

Annwen Jones OBE, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, 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.

We’ve been pushing hard for better awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer for over a decade. Join us this Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month