A PILOT project in Swindon is urging women to see their GP if they show the potential symptoms of ovarian cancer.
The aim is to detect the cancer earlier, which increases the chances of survival and can significantly reduce the intensity of treatment, making recovery quicker.
The campaign – run for the Department of Health by the Thames Valley Cancer Network – is aimed particularly at women aged 50-plus, who account for eight out of 10 cases of ovarian cancer. In this age group across England, there are around 4,750 new cases of ovarian cancer each year, and more than 3,350 deaths.
The key sign to look out for is an unexplained bloated feeling that occurs most days for three weeks or more. If this happens, you should go to your doctor and get it checked out.
The chances are that there’s nothing to worry about, in which case the visit will put your mind at rest, but it could be a sign of something that needs treatment.
The campaign in Swindon runs for two months from today. Advertisements highlighting the key symptom to look out for – bloating – are being taken out in local newspapers, and on TV and radio.
These will be backed on the ground by a team of health activists, who will work within local communities to raise awareness about ovarian cancer.
By talking face-to-face, the activists can help women overcome any concerns and understand that it’s important to get any symptoms checked out.
The activists will also seek to overcome a common reluctance for someone to see their doctor because they don’t realise their symptoms are serious, worry about wasting the doctor’s time and might be embarrassed.
The outcomes from the project will be analysed by the Department of Health, alongside those from other pilot areas, so lessons can be learnt for the design of a national campaign.
Macmillan GP Facilitator Dr Richard Fisher, a partner at Elm Tree Surgery in Shrivenham, is the local GP lead for the pilot project.
“If you show any of the symptoms for three weeks or more, please do go and see your doctor,” he said.
“Don’t feel embarrassed or think you might be wasting our time – whether the cause is straightforward or more serious the outcome is likely to be better if it’s discovered early.
“Most people won’t turn out to have a cancer, but we need your help discover those who do.”
The pilot project is the latest element of the National Awareness and Early Diagnosis Initiative, which has already seen national campaigns on bowel and lung cancer. These urge people to see their doctor if they show potential symptoms, under the slogan, ‘Be clear on cancer’.