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Ovarian cancer: diagnosis must improve

Nurse Sharon Dobbs shares her own experience of being diagnosed, to explain why things must change

March is Ovarian Cancer awareness month. As a clinical nurse specialist who has been diagnosed with Stage 3c ovarian cancer I am committed to trying to raise awareness of this deadly disease. My own story is unfortunately a very common one for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I began presenting to my GP with symptoms of bloating, abdominal pain, tiredness, respiratory symptoms and urinary urgency in January 2017. I then collapsed with severe right-sided ovarian and diaphragmatic pain in February 2017. All gastrointestinal and respiratory investigations were clear, but the symptoms continued.

I returned to my GP and requested an ultrasound scan in May 2017. This showed endometriomas on both ovaries. I was referred to a gynaecologist and given a pelvic MRI which did not include the area just below my right diaphragm. I was informed the scan was clear and that my original scan had possibly been mislabelled. I never underwent a physical examination, was not offered any blood tests and when I requested a laparoscopic procedure I was informed I was asking for needless investigations. At no point was I ever informed I might have ovarian cancer or was there a link made between my symptoms and ovarian cancer.

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