Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day, an initiative of the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition, which aims to raise awareness of this disease.
Each day, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and of those, three will die from the disease, making it Australia’s deadliest women’s cancer. It is also usually diagnosed in its late stages, because there is no early detection test (the pap test does not detect ovarian cancer) and symptoms are often confused with symptoms of other less severe illnesses, particularly gastrointestinal complaints.
Because many signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer could be mistaken for an every day discomfort, recognising any signs and knowing the risks may save the life of your mother, sister, wife, daughter, or even yourself.
What to look for?
According to Ovarian Cancer Australia, the four most common signs are:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain.
- Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating.
- Needing to urinate often or urgently.
- Feeling full after eating a small amount.
If these occur multiple times in a 4-week period… it might be worth a trip to the doctor.
Other symptoms to keep an eye out for are:
- Changes in your bowel habits.
- Unexplained weight-gain or weight loss.
- Bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
- Back pain.
- Indigestion or nausea.
- Excessive fatigue.
- Pain during intercourse.
Know your risk
While the causes of Ovarian Cancer are not fully understood, there are some factors that can increase your risk:
- Age – being over 50, though this disease can affect women of any age.
- Genetics and family history – if two or more relatives on the same side of the family have experienced ovarian and/or breast cancer.
- Childbearing history – women who have never had children, never used contraceptives, or had children over the age of 30.
- Women with endometriosis
- Lifestyle factors – being overweight and/or a smoker
- Hormonal factors – women who began puberty early (pre-12 years old) or started menopause late (after 50 years old).
So get out there, share these signs with all of the ladies you know and if any of the above sound familiar, please see your GP.