23 February 2018
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – By Interchange Australia Consultant, Anne-Marie Kennedy
Each February the important topic of ovarian cancer is highlighted through Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
In 2018 it is estimated over 1600 Australian women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Of those women it is estimated just over a 1000 will die from the disease. The high mortality rate is due to a large proportion of women being diagnosed at an advanced stage when the cancer has spread and is very difficult to treat.
The important message promoted during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is if women are diagnosed at an early stage the outlook is very good with as many as 90% of patients achieving a positive outcome and continuing to live long healthy lives.
The key to early detection is educating women about the symptoms of ovarian cancer so they can go to their doctor for a checkup. There are a number of factors contributing to some women being more at risk of ovarian cancer than others. These include:
- Have a family history of cancer especially ovarian, bowel or breast cancer
- Women who are over 45 years of age as the risk increases with age
- Have never taken the contraceptive pill
- Have had few or no pregnancies
- Have endometriosis
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose as many women experience some of the symptoms from time to time without it being serious. However there are 4 symptoms that women with ovarian cancer frequently report having:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Increased abdominal size or persistent bloating
- Needing to urinate often or urgently
- Feeling full after eating a small amount
Other symptoms to be aware of include:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Unexplained weight gain or loss
- Bleeding in between periods or after menopause
- Back pain
- Indigestion or nausea
- Excessive fatigue
- Pain during intercourse
It is important to remember not all women with these symptoms will have ovarian cancer. However if a woman is experiencing some or all of these symptoms she should consult her doctor as soon as possible. If there is no clear reasons for these symptoms the doctor should consider testing for ovarian cancer. A second opinion should always be sought if a woman is not happy with her doctor’s diagnosis.
Ultimately women know their own bodies better than anyone else and should trust their instincts if they feel something is wrong and seek further advice.
Many of the programs available at Interchange Australia have a focus on health and wellbeing. As such we are strong supporters of health awareness campaigns such as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. For more information about Ovarian Cancer, please visit the Ovarian Cancer Australia website.
If you are currently managing a health issue and wish to boost your feelings of wellbeing, please contact one of our friendly consultants on 1300 112 334 to discuss how we can assist you.