This month is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It is a time where we globally raise our voices in solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer’ is not a singular diagnosis, rather it is an umbrella term for a multitude of different types of cancer that affect the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and the primary peritoneal cavity. Ovarian cancer is the most lethal of the female cancers for which there is no reliable screening test, and every women is at risk. With delays in diagnoses due to this lack of screening and because symptoms are often confused with other, less severe, illness, most women are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, making it more difficult to treat.
Below are some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer. These can also be symptoms of other, less serious, conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome, ovarian cysts and polycystic ovary syndrome so if you’re experiencing them it doesn’t necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer.
Common Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer Include:
✳️Bloating – Increased abdominal size / persistent bloating that doesn’t go away
✳️Eating complications – Difficulty eating / feeling full quickly
✳️Pain – Pain in pelvic or abdomen area
✳️Urinary Symptoms – Urgent or frequent urination Occasionally, there can be other symptoms, such as:
✳️Changes in bowel habits
✳️Abnormal bleeding – Any post-menopausal bleeding should always be checked your primary health care provider or doctor.
✳️Unexplained weight loss
There is no routine, simple screening test to accurately detect ovarian cancer. Contrary to popular belief, cervical screening (i.e. Pap smear) will not detect ovarian cancer. Cervical screening is effective in early detection of cervical cancer, but it is not a test for ovarian cancer. That is why being aware of ovarian cancer and its symptoms are important.
If you have signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, speak to your doctor. The pathway to diagnosis includes:
Transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
CA-125 blood test