Ovarian cancer symptoms can mimic irritable bowel syndrome

June 29, 2009

There is widespread confusion amongst doctors and women about ovarian cancer, a charity has said.

BBC Online news story

ME Association note:

Although this BBC news story is mainly about the long delay that many women experience in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer, it is an important reminder of how the initial symptoms are often dismissed as being due to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) – a condition that often co-exists with ME/CFS.

As the news item points out, early symptoms of ovarian cancer can include IBS symptoms and stomach bloating, and may not include any obvious gynaecological symptoms. Early signs can also include fatigue and urinary symptoms.

Where IBS co-exists with ME/CFS, consideration should always be given to the possibility of adult onset coeliac disease (which can easily be screened for with a blood test) and in the case of older women, the possibility of a serious gynaecological diagnosis – even though there may not be any obvious gynaecological symptoms..

Dr Charles Shepherd

Hon Medical Adviser, ME Association

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