‘Persistent’ bloating is the most common symptom of cancer’s ‘silent killer’

Among women in the UK, ovarian cancer is the sixth leading cause of cancer death, with more than 4,000 deaths each year. It occurs when abnormal cells in the ovary grow and multiply in an uncontrolled manner, eventually forming a tumor. If caught early enough, it can be prevented from spreading to other parts of the body.

However, experts warn that it can be difficult to spot signs quickly due to the nature of the symptoms.

Valentina Milanova, founder of women’s health research company Daye, explained: “Ovarian cancer is the cause of the largest number of female genital cancer-related deaths and is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’.

“When symptoms are present, they can be difficult to detect as they usually overlap with other conditions.”

One such symptom is “permanent” bloating.

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However, this is something that can easily be mistaken for other problems such as overeating, constipation, and irritable bowel syndrome.

Ms Milanova said: “Persistent bloating is the most commonly reported symptom.

“This is because the most common route for cancer to spread is through the abdomen.

“Cancer cells can also block the flow of lymph, causing fluid to build up.”

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Dr. Kimya Tarr, senior manager of digital health at Babylon Health, added: “It is important to note that women may experience bloating for reasons other than ovarian cancer, such as eating foods and drinks that cause gas, constipation, or irritable bowel syndrome ( SRK). ).

“Some women also feel bloated during their period.”

Ms. Milanova shared four other symptoms of ovarian cancer to look out for.


“Pain in the abdomen, back or pelvis are also common symptoms,” she said.

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Dr. Tarr also warned of pain or tenderness in the abdomen or the area between the thighs as a potential sign of ovarian cancer, among other problems.

She said: “Common causes include constipation or IBS, urinary tract infections (UTIs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

“People often experience pelvic pain during their period. Ovarian cysts or endometriosis can also cause pelvic pain.”

“The pain itself varies from person to person, with some reporting that it is similar to menstrual cramps.”

Period changes

Ms Milanova said: “Changes in the menstrual cycle, such as irregular bleeding, spotting or vaginal bleeding after menopause, are also symptoms, although less common.”

Signs when on the toilet

“Changes in toilet habits are common, with one in five women with ovarian cancer reporting changes in bowel and bladder function,” Ms Milanova said.

Very quick feeling of fullness or lack of appetite

She added: “This is due to the accumulation of fluid, which puts pressure on the stomach, making a person feel full.”

If you are experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer, you should contact your general practitioner.

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