It’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, so let’s talk about it.
It’s a grim subject but a very important one. Sadly, women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a 46% survival rate, compared to the 91% survival rate of women diagnosed with breast cancer. This means that unfortunately for us girls, we really need to know and be wary of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer because (even though it’s 2022) there is still no test for it.
So, what are the risk factors?
- I am sure you guessed this one- Genetics. The risk of developing ovarian cancer if a female blood relative has had it is greatly increased. Specifically for women who have inherited mutations of the BRCA1 or BRAC2 genes. You are also at greater risk of developing ovarian cancer if someone in your family has had colon or breast cancer.
- Women who have had children in their late 30s or 40s or women who have never had children
- Using hormone replacement therapy
- Diagnosed endometriosis (tissue that lines the inside the uterus, grows outside the uterus)
- Being overweight or obese
- It is usually hard to know how much a risk factor will contribute to the development of ovarian cancer but if you have already ticked a few things off this list, it’s important to speak to your GP about it.
And, what about the signs and symptoms?
This is the difficult thing about ovarian cancer and why it can be so hard to diagnose until it’s fatally recognised because the signs and symptoms are very
very similar, if not the same as other medical conditions or even just getting your monthly period.
This is why ovarian cancer awareness month is so crucial because if you have noticed a few of these signs, it’s a great time to have a bit more of an investigation with your doctor into the cause of these symptoms that you might be experiencing.
Signs and symptoms to watch out for are:
- Unexplained fatigue
- Changes in bowel movement (like constipation) Lower abdominal or pelvic pain
- Loss of appetite, feeling full quickly or indigestion Changes in the frequency or urgency in urination Unexplained weight loss or gain
If you are experiencing any of these unpleasant symptoms, especially if they are persistent, you can ask your GP for a general or pelvic examination or if you are really concerned, ask them for an ultrasound and some blood tests. Even if it is to put your mind at ease, that’s exactly what your doctor is there for.
There is a lot we don’t know about ovarian cancer; more research is key. You can wear a blue ribbon to help spread awareness about ovarian cancer and raise money for much-needed research and support for the brave women that are diagnosed with it because let’s face it, this is a pretty scary disease. So, let’s bring it to light and start by having at least one more conversation about it with either your mum, your sister, your grandmother, or your friend. This can make a real-life difference.