Today is World Ovarian Cancer Day. I sadly lost a dear friend to this awful disease last month. She not only introduced me to Daddy Pig but also got me hooked on gin. And made the BEST (by which I mean strongest) G&Ts I’ve ever had. So I have a personal interest in raising awareness so that we can improve diagnosis and survival rates. Please share this post with the hashtag #WOCD and remember. If you’re at all worried, the key is to ask your doctor to perform a specific blood test (CA 125 and CA 19-9) to RULE OUT cancer. DON’T let it go misdiagnosed because you’re worried about making a fuss or coming across as a hypochondriac. There’s no such thing as making a fuss when it comes to our health.
- ALL women are at risk of ovarian cancer. ‘Only’ 15% of cases are down to family history (a close blood relation who has had breast cancer before the age of 50 or ovarian cancer at any age). For women with no family history, the biggest risk factor is age and that’s why women over 60 should be particularly vigilant. But actually? We should ALL be aware.
- The UK has the WORST ovarian cancer survival rate in Europe. 75% of women are diagnosed at a late stage making it more difficult to treat.
- In the UK, 4,300 women die from ovarian cancer each year with 135 new cases each week. It’s the fourth most common cancer death in women, after breast, lung and bowel.
- If it’s detected early at stage 1, the survival rate is 80%. Sadly 60-70% of patients are not diagnosed until stage 3 or 4 and the survival rate then falls to 20-30%.
- Ovarian cancer is known as the silent killer, because of its lack of symptoms SPECIFIC to the disease. So ANYONE experiencing ANY of the following should see their doctor:
a) PERSISTENT bloating (which doesn’t go away)
b) Increased abdominal size (some women have remarked they looked pregnant)
c) PERSISTENT pelvic or abdominal pain (again, that doesn’t go away)
d) Difficulty eating or feelings of fullness
e) Frequent/urgent urination
Whilst these symptoms can be down to other, unrelated conditions such as IBS, it’s better to be safe than sorry. If you’re at all worried, ask your doctor to perform a specific blood test (CA 125 and CA 19-9) in order to exclude ovarian cancer.