Tragically, every eight hours, one woman dies from ovarian cancer in Australia, equating to 1,042 women each year.1
Further estimates suggest that 1,720 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer per annum, making it the eighth most common cancer in Australia.2
This month (February) is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – an important milestone on the public health calendar that aims to raise community awareness of, and funds for research, and support for those diagnosed with this devastating disease.
Currently, the overall five-year survival rate of ovarian cancer is only 48 per cent.1 However, this survival rate increases by 42 per cent to a five-year survival rate of 90 per cent if the cancer is diagnosed, in stage one of the disease.
Therefore, being able to identify the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer is of vital importance, particularly given there are currently no tests effective enough for a population-based screening program for this cancer.
Symptoms may include:
- Increased abdominal size or persistent bloating
- Lower tummy pain
- Feeling full after only eating a small amount of food
- A need to urinate frequently
- Pain during sex or bleeding afterwards
- Unexplained weight gain, or loss
- Changes in bowel habits
- Lower back pain
- Indigestion or nausea
- Bleeding in-between periods or after menopause.
Unfortunately, symptoms for ovarian cancer are often vague and can easily be mistaken or misdiagnosed.
To help combat this issue, Ovarian Cancer Australia has developed a ‘symptoms diary’ to enable women to easily record any symptoms they may be experiencing, which they can take to their doctor for further discussion.
It is also important to understand factors that can place women at higher risk of developing ovarian cancer, including a family history of the disease, or with breast or colon cancer, medical conditions, such as endometriosis, taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT), smoking, and obesity.
While ovarian cancer is most often diagnosed in women over 50 years of age, it is occasionally diagnosed in younger women too, reinforcing the importance for all women to be aware of the signs and symptoms of this disease.
To learn more, head to: ovariancancer.net.au/ and download asymptoms diary at ovariancancer.net.au/page/134/signs-and-symptoms?gclid=Cj0KCQiAxoiQBhCRARIsAPsvo-yqBPxxv5jgzSiNf4wjSoG_ymObi1KB7q2dYBbel7KJZJ7kadYomC0aApg5EALw_wcB
1. Ovarian Cancer Australia. The Statistics 2022 [February 2022]; Available from: https://www.ovariancancer.net.au/page/152/the-statistics?gclid=Cj0KCQiAxoiQBhCRARIsAPsvo-wCv8iRkG3HVcxgJs8IrY7Un76t6zc0STFvjyKySZazB6hePPFIpqcaAoP8EALw_wcB.
2. Ovarian Cancer Australia. Frequently asked questions 2022 [February 2022]; Available from: https://www.ovariancancer.net.au/page/242/faq.