Ovarian Cancer Awareness
My lovely mum had ovarian cancer. If only I’d known then what I know now and she would have had a greater chance of beating it. I didn’t know the symptoms but looking back, she had every one of them. Even her GP missed it and it was diagnosed far too late. Please take time continue to read this blog, even if you are a male! Early diagnoses will save lives.
To put things into perspective most ovarian tumours are benign. If you look on google at health problems you end up diagnosing yourself with every life threatening medical problem going and end up thinking that the end-is-near!
There is no formal screening available for ovarian cancer unlike cervical, bowel and breast cancer so being aware of the first symptoms is very important.
The following symptoms are a sign that something could be wrong and it is important to check with your GP.
- Persistent pelvic or abdominal pain (tummy and below)
- Increased abdominal size. Persistent bloating, not bloating that comes and goes so your tummy size goes up and down (usually wind!!!) This bloating is solely around the tummy giving the appearance of a pot belly
- Needing to wee more urgently
- The risk increases with age and particularly post-menopausal but it’s not uncommon in younger women especially if there’s a family history.
- 8/10 cases are sporadic which means that they are one offs; there is no increased risk to female relatives which can be a comfort to know. The other 2/10 cases are believed to be caused by an inherited ‘faulty gene’ – BRCA1/2. This gene increases the risk of developing breast and ovarian cancer.
- Two or more cases on either the mum or dad’s side can increase the risk. Speak to your GP if this is the case in your family and they can advise you and give you more information on risk levels.
- Obesity. There is a known slight increase in risk for women who are overweight. It is only a slight increase though; 2-2.24%
- Using talcum powder. There is a slight increase in risk 2-2.5%. The advice is not to use talc in this area.
- HRT. If HRT is taken for five years or more there is an increased risk. The longer it is taken the greater the risk. Once HRT is stopped the risk falls to that of someone who has never taken it. But, don’t stop taking HRT without your GP’s advice. The risks need to be weighed against the overall benefits of taking HRT.
- Ovarian cysts/ polycystic ovaries. Ovarian cysts are very common; many women have them and never know they have them. There is no known risk that having ovarian cysts or polycystic ovaries increases the chances of developing ovarian cancer.
- Endometriosis. Some evidence suggests there is an increased risk but there are far more people diagnosed with endometriosis who never get diagnosed with ovarian cancer so don’t be too concerned.
Reducing the risk
- The contraceptive pill. This is known to decrease the risk if taken for 10 years or more. But discuss this with your GP to minimise other health risk associated with the pill.
- Having children/ breastfeeding. This can reduce the risk but doesn’t mean that you won’t develop it.
- A healthy lifestyle. Physical activity and a healthy diet decrease the risk slightly due to keeping body weight at a healthy level.
If you have any symptoms that are not normal for you and the GP is dismissive, keep going back, see another GP if needs be. You know your body better than anyone else.
Knowledge is the bomb, share this with as many people as you can and spread the word!
If you need any more information visit www.targetovariancancer.org.uk, you will also find details on how to fund raise.
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