What is it? Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumour that starts in the cells of the ovary. Being malignant means that it can spread to other parts of the body.
It was a shock to learn that although Ovarian cancer is the most fatal women's cancer in Canada, there is no reliable screening test for it. ALL women, ALL of us, are at risk, and it is often caught in its late stages, claiming 1750 lives a year. A tragic 55% of women lose their lives within 5 years of being diagnosed.
The Risks. Women with a family history of ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colorectal cancer, and who are over the age of 50, have a higher risk of it. Those of Ashkenazim Jewish descent, or have a genetic mutation such as BRCA gene mutation, are also at higher risk, as well as those who smoke or are obese, or have never been pregnant. Read more about the risks here.
The Symptoms. There are a few factors that may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer, including full term pregnancy, the use of oral contraceptives, and Tubal Ligation Removal of the ovaries and/or fallopian tubes. Symptoms of ovarian cancer may seem minor, or can signify other conditions, and are often overlooked. Common symptoms are abnormal vaginal bleeding, bloating, abdominal discomfort, changes in digestion (such as feeling full after a small meal, heartburn, or indigestion), a change in urinary habits (needing to urinate more frequently or the feeling quickly intensifies), or painful intercourse. Read more about the signs here.
Make sure you speak with your doctor if you notice new symptoms that persist for three or more weeks. If your doctor suspects ovarian cancer, you should see a gynaecological oncologist quickly.
Have you or someone you love been effected by ovarian cancer?