February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and we want to raise that awareness, so ladies, listen up, and gentlemen, you too. 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. Scary, we know. But there is good news too. With an early diagnosis, up to 80% of women will survive past the five-year mark which, in clinical speak, is a thumbs up.
The tricky part comes in the diagnosis itself. Many signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer could be mistaken for an every day discomfort, which makes it difficult for women to realise anything is wrong. However, as the saying goes, knowledge is power. Recognising these signs and knowing the risks may save the life of your mother, sister, wife, daughter, or even your own fabulous self.
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 the lovely ladies you know, put it on a billboard, do what you need to do, and if any of the above sound familiar, please see your GP.