During February's Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we are urging women to remain ever vigilant, as ovarian cancer symptoms are vague and women often think they are caused by other conditions and may ignore them.
Our Cancer Prevention and Research Director, Melissa Ledger, said that women should pay attention to any symptoms that are unusual for you, new, persistent, or troublesome.
"If you have any of the symptoms and they happen on most days for three 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," Ms Ledger said.
"You won't be wasting the doctor's time, and in most cases it won't be anything to worry about, but if it is cancer and you find it early, your chances of successfully treating it are much greater."
Because it's difficult to detect in its early stages, there are more deaths from ovarian cancer in Australia than any other gynaecological cancer.
Ovarian cancer statistics
Sourced from the WA Dept. of Health Cancer Registry 2017
- The chances of a woman developing ovarian cancer by the time she is 75 is 1 in 161
- Ovarian cancer is more common in women over 50
- In 2017, 115 West Australian women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer
- In 2017, 94 West Australian women died from ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose in its early stages as symptoms can be non-specific or similar to those of other diseases.
Ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- a swollen, bloated abdomen
- pressure, discomfort or pain in the abdomen
- heartburn, nausea and bloating
- changes in toilet habits (e.g. constipation, diarrhoea, frequent urination due to pressure, increased flatulence)
- tiredness and loss of appetite
- unexplained weight loss or weight gain
- changes in your menstrual pattern or postmenopausal bleeding
- pain during sex
More research is required to better understand the causes of ovarian cancer, but there are steps you can take to reduce your overall risk of cancer.
Steps to reduce risk of cancer:
- quitting smoking
- being SunSmart
- maintaining a healthy body weight, being active
- eating plenty of fruit and vegetables
- if you drink alcohol, reducing how much you drink to reduce your cancer risk
- participating in cancer screening programs, if eligible