St Albans’ Grove House Hospice focussing on Ovarian cancer

EMBARRASSMENT has been shown to increase the risk of gynaecological cancers because women put off visiting a doctor when they suspect symptoms.

Recent research has revealed the reluctance but as March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Grove House is encouraging all women to break down the wall of embarrassment surrounding gynaecological cancers and discuss their fears.

Almost 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the UK every year and the majority of cases occur in women over 50 but younger women can also contract the disease. Ovarian Cancer can sometimes be difficult to diagnose as some of the symptoms are similar to those seen in more common conditions, like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).

Many women mistakenly believe that cervical screening tests – sometimes known as smear tests – can help detect ovarian cancer. They cannot.

Typical symptoms of ovarian cancer to look out for are:

• Persistent pelvic and stomach pain;

• Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating – not bloating that comes and goes;

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• Difficulty eating and feeling full quickly.

Occasionally other symptoms such as urinary symptoms, changes in bowel habit, extreme fatigue or back pain may also be experienced.

Joan Follett, nursing services manager at Grove House, said: “It is vital that women come forward and discuss their symptoms or worries about gynaecological cancers. Early diagnosis can significantly reduce risk, survival rates can be as high as 90 per cent for women diagnosed with early stage ovarian cancer.”

She explained: “Here at Grove House we can support women with ovarian cancer from diagnosis and throughout illness. Counselling is available as well as access to complementary therapies such as massage and reiki. Practical support can be given on a weekly basis by coming to the day hospice. Support at Grove House is not prescriptive, but tailored to individual needs.”

Sue was originally diagnosed with the disease in 2004 and went through several months of treatment. She used Grove House to help her stay strong and positive, throughout. Sue said of her experience: “I would certainly recommend anyone with ovarian cancer to give Grove House a call. They have time to talk; they can provide up-to-date and relevant information, not just about the disease itself but also about the help that is available. Getting out and staying positive is important and there is always something going on at the hospice. I found the yoga classes particularly helpful.”

If you are worried about cancer phone 01727 731000 or visit