This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month we're asking women to talk about ovarian cancer and understand the symptoms. Ovarian cancer is most common in women over the age of 50. Of the 142 West Australian women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, 120 of them were over 50.
Because it's difficult to detect in its early stages, there are more deaths from ovarian cancer than any other gynaecological cancer. Three in ten women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive five years after diagnosis.
Ovarian cancer symptoms are not always easy to spot as they can be vague. There's more chance that symptoms are caused by cancer if they:
• are new
• are quite severe
• don't come and go
If you have any of the symptoms below and they happen on most days for 3 weeks or more, particularly if you're over 50 or have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, go to your doctor and get a check-up.
Symptoms can include:
• pain in the lower tummy (abdomen) or side
• a bloated, full feeling in the abdomen
• irregular periods or vaginal bleeding after menopause
• lower tummy (abdominal) pain
• back pain
• passing urine more often than usual
• pain during sex
• a swollen abdomen
• a feeling of fullness or loss of appetite
When to see your doctor
You should see your doctor if you have:
• symptoms that are unusual for you
• symptoms that don't go away
Our Cancer Smart Manager, Melissa Ledger says getting to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer and the look and feel of your body so you can quickly understand and identify any changes is essential to finding the disease.
"The simplest way we can start to address this is to encourage women to get to know the signs and symptoms of the disease, and speak to their doctor when they notice changes to their body that are new and persist for a few weeks.
"This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, with your support, we will continue to invest in research and support for those affected, including carers and families.
"If women have questions regarding ovarian cancer, they should visit their doctor or call our Cancer Nurses on 13 11 20 for access to free cancer publications, confidential support and referrals."