Known as the “Silent Killer” Ovarian cancer will affect around 6,600 women in the UK every year. Of these, 4,400 will not survive. Notoriously hard to diagnose, Ovarian cancer is the fourth most common cancer in women, but as GP’s will only see an average of one case a year, and because symptoms are difficult to pick up upon, a proper diagnosis is often missed.
If the disease is picked up upon in its early stages, the outcome is usually good, however because symptoms affecting the sufferer can also be linked to a number of common conditions, most women are not diagnosed until after the cancer has spread.
Common symptoms include:
- Persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
- Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
- Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
The key terms here are persistently, frequently and severely. If you do experience these symptoms, then it is vital you see your GP as soon as possible, particularly if there have been any cases of breast or ovarian cancer in your family in the past.
Around 7% of ovarian cancer cases are linked to a faulty inherited gene from either parent, and researchers have discovered that close relatives of women with ovarian cancer are slightly more at risk of developing the disease. Those with strong family history may be referred to a cancer geneticist who may remove their ovaries and tubes, this however is not completely effective. 90% of cases occur in post menopausal women and those over the age of 45.
Research has shown that you can lower the risk of ovarian cancer by using the combined contraceptive pill and through breast feeding upon the birth of a child. It is also conjectured that HRT, Dairy consumption and talcum powder are linked to increasing the risks.
There are a number of different ways of treating ovarian cancer, and new developments are occurring all the time. Usually a patient will have surgery to remove the tumour before undergoing chemotherapy to kill the cells that are dividing unnaturally.