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Bloated stomach of UK woman misdiagnosed as pregnancy, turns out with ovarian cancer later

The recent incident of a 24-year-old UK woman has shocked the world. After being misdiagnosed for some time, she was later diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It is the fifth most common cause of death in women, and that is because ovarian cancers are diagnosed at a later stage.

Written By : Health Desk Edited By : Kristina Das
New Delhi
Published on: April 01, 2024 19:27 IST
Ovarian Cancer
Image Source : FREEPIK UK woman's bloated stomach misdiagnosed, turns out to be ovarian cancer.

In a shocking instance of misdiagnosis, doctors in the UK informed a 24-year-old lady that she was pregnant when in fact, she had ovarian cancer. According to the BBC, Emma Colledge went to the doctor in February 2022 because of bloating and frequent trips to the bathroom. She assumed that irritable bowel syndrome or allergies were to blame.

Her pregnancy tests were negative, even though doctors had told her she was pregnant because of her enlarged tummy.

Ms Colledge said, "I went to the doctors in May and they told me I was pregnant. I knew I wasn't and the test confirmed that. I know people say 'don't Google it', but when I Googled my symptoms it always said that ovarian cancer is found in people mostly aged 50 and over."

Ms Colledge received an appointment for additional testing, but the pain worsened before she could visit the clinic. Thereafter, an ultrasound revealed that she had a gastrointestinal cyst. It was later determined that she had ovarian cancer.

The 24-year-old woman said, "When I was first diagnosed, I was questioning whether I'd make it to my 24th birthday, or if I'd die tomorrow. But I am very strong-willed. I'm stubborn and I told myself that this isn't my time to go, and I'm making sure of that."

"It had spread to my stomach and the stomach lining. The cyst was so big that they couldn't see anything else because it had started crushing my kidneys. I thought I was too young to get ovarian cancer. It's not common. But it was," she added. 

As per Metro report, the cyst and the ovary were removed during a five-and-a-half-hour procedure. In addition, she underwent a nine-hour-long hysterectomy during which her appendix, spleen, and part of her colon were removed.

She also underwent six cycles of chemotherapy at the Freeman Hospital in Newcastle's Teenage Cancer Trust section. Since her final chemotherapy treatment in 2023, tests have revealed no evidence of the cancer returning. 

The Teenage Cancer Trust said, "Knowing the signs of ovarian cancer is a good idea, but remember that lots of conditions less serious than cancer can also cause these symptoms."

Symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  1. Pain around the pelvis and tummy
  2. Bloating 
  3. Difficulty in eating
  4. Menstrual changes
  5. Fatigue
  6. Sudden weight loss
  7. Back pain

Ovarian cancer is dangerous because it often goes undetected until it has spread beyond the ovaries, and the symptoms can also be attributed to other conditions.

“One important contributing cause is the absence of routine screening programmes and early detection techniques, which frequently results in diagnosis at advanced stages with few treatment options and a dismal prognosis,” Dr Kanav Kumar, a Surgical Oncologist at the Punyashlok Ahilyadevi Holkar Head & Neck Cancer Institute of India, Mumbai.

Ovarian cancer risk factors also include obesity, endometriosis, and the use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT), particularly if HRT is used for a long time.

Women nearing menopause should be careful with any symptoms like a lump in the abdomen or lump in the breast, changes in bowel habits, postmenopausal bleeding or something related to a bloating sensation in the stomach.

(With IANS Inputs)

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