September 25, 2013
It is estimated that one in 68 Canadian women will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime and one in 95 will die from it.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. During this time, doctors encourage women in Nova Scotia to educate themselves on the disease, its symptoms and their individual risk factor.
Ovarian cancer is often overlooked and under-diagnosed. There is no screening test for ovarian cancer and its symptoms may be mistaken for other causes. Common symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, feeling full quickly or difficulty eating, and urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency.
If a woman experiences one or more of these symptoms as new and for longer than three weeks, she should contact her physician.
When discovered in its early stages – and treated – the ovarian cancer survival rate is 90 per cent.
Women who are between the ages of 50 and 69 are most at risk for ovarian cancer, although it can also be found in women who are younger. It’s also important for women to know their own risk factors for the disease. Individuals with two or more close relatives (male or female) with a history of breast, ovarian or colon cancer are at a greater risk for ovarian cancer.
A Pap smear does not detect ovarian cancer, and the HPV vaccine helps prevent cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer.
It is important for women to pay close attention to their bodies so they can identify when something is out of the ordinary. Take this month to educate yourself about ovarian cancer and the symptoms women should pay attention to and talk to your doctor about ovarian cancer.
For more information visit: www.ovariancanada.org
Mike Fleming, BSc, MD, CCFP, FCFP