Earlier in the week, we blogged about Prostate Cancer Awareness. The month of March is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. At Healthy Performance Towers, we are doing our bit for Target Ovarian Cancer as we #StartMakingNoise about the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Early diagnosis saves lives!
How many women are affected by ovarian cancer?
About 7,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the UK, making it the fifth most common cancer in the UK. There are several different cancers of the ovaries dependent on where the cancerous cells are. The most common one is epithelial ovarian cancer (90% of diagnosis), which affects the surface layers of the ovary, but there are germ cell tumours (in the cells that make your eggs) and stromal tumours, which develop within the cells that hold the ovaries together.
What are the symptoms?
Symptoms related to Ovarian Cancer include bloating, loss of appetite or feeling full quickly. Pain in the pelvis or abdominal region, or an urge to urinate urgently or frequently are also signs to be aware of, and you must consult your GP as soon as possible if you are experiencing any of these symptoms.
Most cases occur in women over the age of 50 years and there are several possible causes which have been identified, that make developing the condition more likely:
- Having a close relative (mother, sister or daughter) who has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer (or breast cancer) might increase your risk of developing the condition. If they were diagnosed before the age of 50, it might be that they possess a faulty gene and it is advised that you be tested for this gene (although only about one in 10 ovarian cancers are thought to be caused by a faulty gene).
- Where the risk of ovarian cancer developing increases every time a woman ovulates, reducing the number of times ovulation occurs can slightly reduce the risk of developing the condition. Therefore, taking a contraceptive pill, having children and breastfeeding and, having a hysterectomy may have protective effects.
- Small increases in ovarian cancer diagnosis have been identified in women who take hormone replacement therapy (HRT). However, once stopped, a women’s risk is equal to those who have never taken HRT after 5 years.
- Women who suffer from Endometriosis have a slightly greater risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer awareness facts – did you know …
Three quarters of women are diagnosed once the cancer has already spread, making treatment more difficult.
Ninety per cent of women diagnosed early with ovarian cancer will be alive in five years’ time.
How can you reduce your risk of ovarian cancer?
- Avoid a high fat diet and maintain a healthy weight
- Participate in regular physical activity
- You can also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by not smoking.
- If you have a strong family history of ovarian cancer ask your GP. They can advise you about screening and you can talk to them about preventing ovulation through taking the contraceptive pill, pregnancy and breastfeeding or a hysterectomy.
To get involved with the Target Ovarian Cancer #StartMakingNoise campaign around ovarian cancer awareness, please click here.