Awareness of ovarian cancer is low, both among women and GPs, with two-thirds of women diagnosed once the cancer has already spread.
According to Teenage Cancer Trust: ‘While most women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are over 45, it’s getting more common in teenagers and younger women too.’
Research spend on ovarian cancer in the UK has dropped by a third in five years.
Target Ovarian Cancer’s research states that 11 women die in the UK every day from ovarian cancer. They have decided that enough is enough and their social media campaign is ‘Start Making Noise’. So, let’s raise some awareness today.
I don’t know about you but for me my ovaries are not something I think about on a regular basis. A little bit like all of my internal organs, it’s all a bit abstract for me. In fact, if someone showed me an ovary, I don’t think I would know what it was. (Though if someone showed me lungs or a heart I’d know exactly what they were… must be all those hours watching Grey’s Anatomy…) So I’ve found this handy info-graphic to help… That’s right, we all remember those reproductive pictures in our science books at secondary school. So I’ll just pop this one here…
Now for the science bit…
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is when abnormal cells in the ovary begin to multiply out of control and form a cancerous tumour.
The ovaries are made up of three types of cells. Each cell can develop into a different type of tumour:
- Epithelial tumours form in the layer of tissue on the outside of the ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumours
- Stromal tumours grow in the hormone-producing cells. Seven percent of ovarian cancers are stromal tumours.
- Germ cell tumours develop in the egg-producing cells. Germ cell tumours are rare.
As with all cancers, catching ovarian cancer early means a higher chance for survival. However, it’s not easy to detect. Your ovaries are situated deep within the abdominal cavity, so you’re unlikely to feel a tumour. There’s no routine diagnostic screening available for ovarian cancer. That’s why it’s so important for you to report unusual or persistent symptoms to your doctor.
What are the early symptoms of ovarian cancer?
It’s easy to overlook the early symptoms of ovarian cancer because they’re similar to other common illnesses or they tend to come and go. The early symptoms include:
- abdominal bloating, pressure, and pain
- abnormal fullness after eating
- difficulty eating
- an increase in urination
- an increased urge to urinate
Ovarian cancer can also cause other symptoms, such as:
- back pain
- menstrual irregularities
- painful intercourse
- dermatomyositis (a rare inflammatory disease that can cause skin rash, muscle weakness, and inflamed muscles)
These symptoms may occur for any number of reasons, such as a bladder infections, weight gain and you may experience these during pregnancy. They aren’t necessarily due to ovarian cancer. Many women have some of these problems at one time or another. These types of symptoms are often temporary and respond to simple treatments in most cases. Again, cancers are best treated when detected early. Please consult with your doctor if you experience new and unusual symptoms.
The symptoms will persist if they’re due to ovarian cancer. Symptoms usually become more severe as the tumour grows. By this time, the cancer has usually spread outside of the ovaries. This makes it much harder to treat effectively. Contact your doctor if you have one or more of these symptoms for a significant period.
If you would like more information about ovarian cancer, have a look at Cancer Research UKs comprehensive guide which can be found here:
If you would like to read some stories written by young women and teenagers who have had ovarian cancer please visit:
#youcan #youcansupport #youthcancersupport #youcanblog #ovariancancer #ovariancancerawarenessmonth #startmakingnoise
What is Ovarian Cancer?