Everything You Need To Know About Ovarian Cancer

Often called the ‘silent er’, the disease has symptoms that can be vague and there''s no reliable screening

Often called the ‘silent killer’, the disease has symptoms that can be vague and there's no reliable screening test, which is why the fatality rate is so high. When caught early—as about 20% of cases are—ovarian cancer is highly treatable, and the 5-year survival rate is 94%.

Here's what you need to know about reducing your risk and spotting the warning signs quickly if they should strike.

Fact 1:

Ovarian cancer is diagnosed annually in nearly a quarter of a million women globally, and is responsible for 140,000 deaths each year. Unlike some other cancers, developing and developed nations are similarly affected by the disease.

Fact 2:

Awareness of the symptoms of ovarian cancer may enable women to receive an earlier diagnosis, when the disease is more easily treatable.
  • Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating
  • Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Needing to pass urine more urgently or more frequently

Fact 3:

Diagnosis at an early stage vastly improves a woman’s chance of survival. If she is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a gynaecologic oncologist, who is a specialist who treats women’s cancers, is the best person to manage her care.

Fact 4:

Ovarian cancer is frequently diagnosed when the cancer is already at an advanced stage and women often delay seeking help. This may be because the woman thinks her symptoms are due to ‘the time of the month’, ‘menopause’, ‘something I ate’ or confused with other common stomach and digestive complaints.

Fact 5:

Many women mistakenly believe a cervical smear test (or Pap test) will detect ovarian cancer. It does not. It detects pre-cancerous changes to cells of the cervix, which is treated much more successfully than ovarian cancer.

Considering that all of us women are at risk of this cancer, it’s a good idea to pay attention to this information and consult with your doctor as soon as there’s any suspicion.

The sooner you have the important exams, the better is the possibility of detection before it is too late.

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