Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
This month let’s spread awareness about ovarian cancer. It is the ninth most common cancer diagnosed in Australian women, and sixth most common cause of cancer deaths. 4 Australian women are diagnosed every day. 1 in 80 women will develop ovarian cancer in a lifetime.
There are three types of ovarian cancer:
- Epithelial tumours – the most common type and 90% of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumours. Where the cancer starts or is found at the surface layer of the ovary.
- Germ cell tumours – rare type of cancer where it begins in the cells eventually developing into eggs.
- Stromal tumours – is also a rare type and arises from connective tissue cells.
These different types of ovarian cancer also behaves differently and treated differently. Not all ovarian tumours are cancerous, some are benign cyst. However, a very small number can be cancerous.
What are the Risks and Causes?
There are unknown exact causes of this type of cancer and there is no early detection tests as well. However, there are factors that may increase the risk of acquiring the disease:
- Increasing Age – As a woman gets older the risk of developing ovarian cancer becomes higher. The average age of women where the rates are highest are women aged 55 – 64 years old.
- Hereditary Factors – Approximately 20% of this cancer is caused by hereditary factors.
- Genetic mutations of genes associated with ovarian cancer, such as BRCA1 or BRCA2
- Women with a family history of any of the following cancers may indicate an increased risk: Breast cancer, Ovarian cancer, Colon cancer, Uterine cancer, Rectal cancer.
- Other Factors see infographic below:
Signs and Symptoms
The symptoms of this disease are often very subtle, in most women these don’t show up until the cancer has advanced. Since it has no early detection, women need to be aware of its symptoms. The most commonly reported symptoms are:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Feeling full quickly
- Increase in urination
Other additional symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are:
- Lower back pain
- Painful intercourse
- dermatomyositis (a rare inflammatory disease that can cause skin rash, muscle weakness, and inflamed muscles)
If you are persistently experiencing these symptoms, you should see your doctor. Your doctor might do further tests to find out the cause of your discomfort.
“You know your body better than anyone else, so always listen to what your body is saying and trust your instincts.”
It is easy to treat ovarian cancer if your doctor is able to diagnose it in its early stages. However, this type of cancer is not easy to detect. If a doctor suspects a woman to have ovarian cancer, doctor might probably perform the following tests:
- complete pelvic exam
- transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
- blood test to measure cancer antigen 125 (CA-125) levels
Each year 1,600 Aussie women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In most cases, it is diagnosed at an advanced stage. Tragically two-in-three women with ovarian cancer do not survive. That could by anyone in your life – family, spouses or friends. It is time to get involved and help researchers develop a cure for this disease.
You can donate to ovarian cancer research here.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019 is Teal ribbon day – a day to support Australians living with ovarian cancer, honour those we have lost and raise awareness of this deadly disease to change the story for future generations. Buy and wear a teal ribbon not only to show your support but also to save lives.