Warning for women with two common 'period' conditions – check yourself now | The Sun

Warning for women with two common 'period' conditions – check yourself now | The Sun

OVER 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK.

But the disease – which kills 4,000 yearly – is often only identified in its later stages, which is why it's been dubbed a 'silent killer'.

Fresh research has linked two common conditions to ovarian cancer.

The study – published in the Journal Obstetrics and Gynaecology – found that women who had endometriosis or fibroids had a higher risk of developing the dreaded disease.

It examined 8,500 black and white women, 3,245 of whom had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Of these participants, 6.4 per cent of black women and 7 per cent of white women had endometriosis, and 43.2 per cent of black women and 21.5 per cent of white women experienced fibroids.

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Researchers found that black and white women with fibroids had had a higher risk of ovarian cancer – though having a hysterectomy did slash that risk considerably.

As for those with endometriosis, the study showed that white women who had a hysterectomy were able to reduce their risk of developing the cancer.

But black women who underwent the procedure still had a heightened risk for ovarian cancer.

The procedure – which involves removing someone's womb – is a last-line treatment for both conditions.

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What is endometriosis?

When someone has endometriosis, tissue that is similar to the lining of the womb will grow in other parts of their body, such as their ovaries or fallopian tubes.

Endometriosis affects around 1.5 million in the UK — around the same number of women as diabetes.

However, many are not diagnosed for around eight years because symptoms are similar to other health problems.

Symptoms of endometriosis can vary, but the most common include painful or heavy periods, pain during and following sex, bleeding between periods, pain in the lower abdomen and difficulty conceiving.

Endometriosis can also cause sufferers to be constantly tired, and experience discomfort when using the toilet.

As outlined by Endometriosis UK, other key symptoms include: bleeding from the bowel, pain while urinating, as well as back and leg pain.

Endometriosis can occasionally be diagnosed with ultrasound scans – but keyhole surgery is the most common form of diagnosis.

According to NHS guidelines, a hysterectomy – an operation to remove the womb – is rare, and usually only performed on women for whom other treatments haven't worked, and who have decided to not have more children.

A recent study found that you're more likely to experience depression if you suffer from endometriosis, because both conditions are caused by the same genes.

What are fibroids?

Fibroids are non-cancerous growths – made of muscle and tissue – that develop in and around the uterus, usually in people aged 16 to 50.

This is when levels of oestrogen – the female reproductive hormone produced by the ovaries – are at their highest.

Though it's not clear why fibroids develop, they have been linked to the hormone.

Many will be unaware they have them due to lack of symptoms.

But according to the NHS, one in three women with the condition may experience:

  • heavy periods or painful periods
  • tummy pain
  • lower back pain
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • constipation
  • pain or discomfort during sex

As fibroids grow in the womb, they could sometimes lessen a woman's chances of conceiving and being able to carry a baby full term.

Fibroids are actually pretty common – about two in three women will get at least one in some point of their life.

They're more common in women of African and Caribbean descent.

As most people won't experience symptoms, fibroids will often be diagnosed by chance.

Doctors may recommend you have a hysterectomy if you have large fibroids and severe bleeding, and don't want to have more children, according to the NHS.

But there are a number of other ways to treat the condition, including taking the contraceptive pill or anti-inflammatory medicines.

When should I see a GP?

You should see a GP if you think you have endometriosis or fibroids.

You should also see one if you're experiencing symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Both constipation and diarrhoea are signs of the dreaded disease.

According to Cancer Research UK, digestive issues could be because the cancer has spread to the colon or because pressure from the cancer is pressing on the affected area.

Medics there said other signs include:

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  1. feeling full quickly
  2. loss of appetite
  3. pain in your tummy (abdomen) or lower part of your abdomen that doesn't go away
  4. bloating or an increase in the size of your abdomen
  5. needing to wee more often
  6. tiredness that is unexplained
  7. weight loss that is unexplained

Guidance states that if you experience any of the symptoms mentioned above, 12 or more times in a month, you should arrange tests with your GP – especially if you're over the age of 50.

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