World Ovarian Cancer Day Is May 8th. What Do You Know About Ovarian Cancer?
Cancer affects millions of men, women, and children. It is rare to find someone without a story to tell about a friend, colleague, or family member that has had cancer themselves or provided support to someone who does.
Many of us know a lot about specific types of cancer because they are pretty “common,” and there are things that can reduce the risk of developing them. For example, we often hear about skin cancer and lung cancer, which can often be avoided by not smoking and using sunscreen.
But, there are some cancers we do not talk about much. Ovarian cancer is one such type of cancer, and May 8th, World Ovarian Cancer Day, is devoted to increasing awareness about this disease. It is a disease that takes the lives of more than 200,000 women around the globe every year. What do you know about ovarian cancer?
Four Essential Facts About Ovarian Cancer
You can’t detect ovarian cancer from a pap smear.
Many women and men wrongfully believe that a routine cervical pap test can be used to diagnose ovarian cancer. (It can detect cervical cancer, though.) The only reliable way to diagnose ovarian cancer is by performing a biopsy. There is actually no routine screening test for ovarian cancer.
Doctors don’t often diagnose patients with ovarian cancer until it is “late stage.”
The signs of cancer of the ovaries are often attributed to other, less severe ailments, which can delay its diagnosis. By the time doctors come to an ovarian cancer diagnosis, the disease has usually spread and is much harder to treat. Detecting ovarian cancer at an early stage makes treatment more successful.
Raising awareness about the symptoms of ovarian cancer might lead to earlier diagnoses.
According to a World Ovarian Cancer Coalition survey of women living with ovarian cancer, nine of ten women had multiple symptoms prior to their diagnosis. The survey also revealed more than two-thirds of the women had never heard of ovarian cancer until their diagnosis. Educating women and doctors around the globe about the prevalence of ovarian cancer and its symptoms can result in earlier detection and better outcomes.
You should not ignore the most common signs or symptoms of ovarian cancer.
- Persistent bloating, increased size of your abdomen that does not come and go
- Feeling full quickly while eating
- Having difficulty eating
- Pelvic pain
- Abdominal pain
- Changes in urinary frequency or urgency
There are sometimes other symptoms or signs of ovarian cancer that can include:
- Changes in bowel habits
- Bleeding (especially any post-menopausal bleeding)
- Unexplained weight loss
Because these symptoms are often subtle and attributed to other illnesses, ovarian cancer is often the last thing people think of. Don’t let that be the case if you experience some of these signs. Make sure you discuss ovarian cancer with your health care provider.
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