World Ovarian Cancer Day - What You Need To Know
Globally, ovarian cancer is diagnosed in nearly a quarter of a million women each year and it is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually, according to statistics from the Ovarian Cancer Day organisation's website.
In Ireland, an estimated 300 women are diagnosed with the disease each year, and it has been described as a 'silent killer'.
Statistics collated by the Mater Hospital's Cancer Centre say that ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women and that it accounts for about 5% of all women's cancer.
Ovarian cancer occurs when normal cells change and grow to form a malignant tumour or cancer.
As the ovaries are located deep in the pelvis, the tumour can affect other organs as it grows, including the bladder and the bowel.
This cancer has few early symptoms and is often detected in the advanced stages when it is more difficult to treat and although it can occur at any stage, it is most common after the menopause.
To mark World Ovarian Cancer Day, cancer organisations around the world have put together five facts that every woman should know about ovarian cancer.
Fact 1: All women are at risk for ovarian cancer.
Fact 2: Awareness of the early warning signs of the disease may save lives.
Fact 3: Diagnosis at an early stage vastly improves a woman’s chance of survival.
Fact 4: Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a late stage.
Fact 5: Many women mistakenly believe a cervical smear test will detect ovarian cancer.
Educating yourself on the risk factors surrounding ovarian cancer can help early detection as early symptoms are not always noticed.
- More common in women who haven't had children
- A family history of ovarian cancer, (risk also increases slightly if there is a family history of breast and/or bowel cancer).
- Age (more common after the menopause)
- Late menopause
- Hormone Replacement Therapy (HRT), there is a slightly higher risk factor associated with women who have received HRT
Although the signs are not always noticed immediately and they can take a long time to appear, it is very important to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
- Persistent swollen abdomen
- Mild indigestion and or/nausea
- A poor appetite and a tendency to feel full very quickly after eating
- Changes in your bowel and bladder habits
- Pain in the abdomen and pelvic area
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding and/or discharge (although this symptom is quite rare)
Supporting Ovarian Cancer Knowledge, or SOCK as it is widely referred to, was set up by the late Jane Keating in 2010.
Following her diagnosis with ovarian cancer, Jane wanted to raise awareness about this type of cancer and provide information on a cancer that wasn't widely talked about.