Mum urges others to look out for ovarian cancer symptomsBy Jennie Slevin
January 23, 2013
A mum-of-three living with ovarian cancer is urging women to recognise its symptoms as part of a campaign to raise awareness of the killer disease.
Sheila Lada joined Berkshire’s top cancer doctor to launch the ‘Be Clear on Cancer’ campaign at Birch Hill Medical Centre on Monday.
Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women with more than 3,500 deaths in England each year, but doctors say it’s easy to catch if women know what they’re looking for.
Dr Anant Sachdev, cancer lead for Berkshire PCT, said: “Early diagnosis saves lives.”
The campaign to raise awareness among patients and doctors highlights the main symptoms, which include unexplained bloating, a loss of appetite, stomach pain and urinating more often.
Sheila, 58, who worked as a project manager at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals, was diagnosed with cancer in her Fallopian tubes in 2009.
Having already watched a colleague die from ovarian cancer, she knew the risks associated with the disease but, by the time she had been scanned, it had spread to her bowels.
She said: “I would encourage any woman who has been suffering from bloating to go and see your GP – it could save your life.
“I’m now what they call, ‘living with cancer’. It can’t be operated on so I’m being treated with drugs to keep it stable but one day it will become unstable.”
Dr Sachdev, who practises at the Birch Hill centre in Leppington, added: “If you show any of the symptoms for three weeks or more, please go and see your doctor.
“Don’t feel embarrassed or think you might be wasting our time, it’s an easy one to pick up if you see a doctor early enough.”
He added: “The tests are very simple and non-invasive, it’s similar to a pregnancy scan.”
Ovarian cancer is most common with women who have gone through the menopause and, if caught early can be treated and removed.
Sheila has also been tested for the BRCA gene, which is known to pass on breast cancer, but thankfully doesn’t carry it.
She said: “We’re not BRCA positive but my daughters are now on a more frequent screening schedule. One of my daughters was displaying the tell-tale sign of bloating and so, because I have the cancer she got fast tracked and luckily was all clear.”
Like Sheila, 60 per cent of women don’t catch the disease until it’s developed to stage three or four, the most aggressive stage.
She added: “I had a really astute GP who sent me for a scan and at first they said there wasn’t anything to worry about but my doctor was adamant and sent me for a second scan and an investigative operation.
“It was hard to find because Fallopian tube is the rarest gynaecological cancer.”