A Sussex nurse has revealed how her doctor misdiagnosed her with irritable bowel syndrome instead of potentially deadly ovarian canver.
Lindy Waldron, 59, was working as a community nurse when she started to feel unwell.
Her GP told her it was just IBS but a scan revealed a complex mass of cancer on her uterus.
According to research charity,Target Ovarian Cancer, a study has shown thousands of other women are being put at risk from the so-called “silent killer” because doctors cannot spot the warning signs.
Last year 139 new cases of ovarian cancer were diagnosed in Sussex.
During the year 111 women died from the disease.
Most shockingly, only a third of Sussex women diagnosed with the disease live five years or more.
A spokeswoman for the charity said that if more correct diagnoses were made earlier, lives could be saved.
Mrs Waldron, who gave up nursing because of the stress of her illness and now works as a librarian said: “As a nurse, looking back, these symptoms should have alerted me that something was wrong but I ignored them.
“I began to experience right-sided abdominal pain, which became persistent and eventually kept me awake at night. Always in the same place and unlike any other pain I had experienced.
“Very worried and convinced that I had bowel cancer, I visited my GP.
“She felt my abdomen and couldn’t detect anything abnormal. Her diagnosis was irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), but seeing the worried look on my face she agreed to refer me to a gastroenterologist. He also examined me abdominally and recorded 'no obvious mass'.
“Thankfully, with private health insurance, it was only a short wait for a colonoscopy to rule out colitis.
“A week later I had a trans-vaginal ultrasound (TVU). During the scan I realised that something was very wrong. The sonographer said nothing, but afterwards she ran to find the consultant with the results. I remember sitting alone in the car in a complete state of shock and then having to drive home.
“The consultant rang me later with the bad news.”
Mrs Waldron had surgery in April 2004 to remove her uterus, ovaries, omentum, pelvic lymph nodes and her spleen - which the cancer had spread to, followed by chemotherapy.
Five years on, Mrs Waldron's cancer in in remission, but she is particularly susceptible to infections.
Of 400 GPs surveyed by Target Ovarian Cancer, 80% wrongly thought women with early stage ovarian cancer had no symptoms.
If diagnosed early, 90% of women could survive, but in three quarters of patients, by the time they are diagnosed the cancer has spread to other organs making it much harder to treat.
Target chief executive Annwen Jones said: "Change is long overdue and ovarian cancer needs to become a priority.”