Ovarian cancer is the 6th most common cause of cancer deaths in Australian women. It occurs when malignant neoplastic cells in one or both ovaries multiply uncontrollably. This can disrupt reproductive processes, as well as the processes of the organs near it in the abdominal cavity.
Unlike breast cancer and cervical cancer which can be detected using breast exams and HPV screening tests respectively, there is no such means of catching ovarian cancer early. Doctors rely on reports of symptoms from possible patients.
For this reason, it's not uncommon for ovarian tumors to be discovered in the later stages of the disease, when the symptoms can no longer be ignored.
It is important for women to be aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer and the risk factors that may predispose them.
Risk factors for ovarian cancer
In an effort to find out the cause and possible ways to prevent ovarian cancer, researchers studied the traits and lifestyle habits of ovarian cancer patients to find common factors:
- Aged 50 years old or more
- Have family members who have been diagnosed with ovarian, breast, or bowel cancer
- Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene
- Have a history of endometriosis
- Have been under long-term hormone replacement therapy
- Have not had children or had their first child past 35 years of age
- Suffer from obesity
- Maintain a long-time habit of smoking
Every woman, regardless of age, medical history, ethnicity, or lifestyle habits should still be alert.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer
Symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:
- Excessive lethargy and fatigue
- Menstrual irregularities or bleeding after menopause
- Abnormal bowel movements
- Strong need to urinate frequently
- Pain concentrated in the lower back, abdomen, or pelvic area
- Unexplained weight changes
- Abdominal bloating
- Feeling full despite small meals
If you have experienced any of the above regularly for the weeks or months, or if any of the above are interfering with your quality of life, you should book an appointment with a GP at Globe Medical Adelaide.
When it comes to ovarian cancer, every woman’s mindset should be “better safe than sorry.”
You know your body best, you know what’s normal, and you know when something’s off. Pay attention and don't hesitate in seeing a doctor.