Cancer signs ‘mistaken for dietary issue’

Persistent bloating can be a sign of ovarian cancer
Persistent bloating can be a sign of ovarian cancer

Women could be buying probiotic yoghurts instead of seeking medical health for a key symptom of cancer, a charity has warned.

Persistent bloating is one of the main signs that a woman may be suffering from ovarian cancer but a new poll has found that some women would be more likely to make changes to their diet than visit their GP if they were regularly bloated.

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A survey of 1,142 women on behalf of Target Ovarian Cancer found that 50 per cent of British women would change their diet if they were persistently bloated. This includes cutting out certain foods like gluten or dairy, starting to consume certain foods such as probiotic yoghurts or peppermint tea, or go on a diet.

But just 34 per cent said that they would visit a GP if they had concerns about regular bloating. Previous research by the charity has found that only one in five women even know that this could be a sign of ovarian cancer.

The charity said there is an “awareness gap” surrounding the symptoms of the disease.

As a result, two thirds of British sufferers are not being diagnosed until their disease has spread, making it harder to treat, the charity added.

Annwen Jones, chief executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, said: “A probiotic yoghurt should not be preventing a woman from visiting the GP promptly if something is worrying her.

"Women should not be risking their lives because of the enduring awareness gap around the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

"If women know ovarian cancer symptoms such as persistent bloating and are able to link them to ovarian cancer early on, lives will be saved.”

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer include: pelvic or abdominal pain, feeling full quickly and/or a loss of appetite or needing to wee more than usual.