Teal is the colour of Ovarian Cancer Awareness, and February is the month to heighten that awareness. So this blog is teal, and a reminder to us all. It is also has a very personal resonance, as I have a friend with ovarian cancer.
The Ovarian Cancer Australia webpage has some excellent material. However, I am lifting some of their information to post here, because you can never have too many reminders about the symptoms.
Every woman needs to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Make sure you do.
It can be difficult to diagnose ovarian cancer because the symptoms are ones that many women will have from time to time, and they are often symptoms of less serious and more common health problems.
But we do know that ovarian cancer is NOT a silent disease. Women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer report four types of symptoms most frequently:
Abdominal or pelvic pain.
Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating.
Needing to urinate often or urgently.
Feeling full after eating a small amount.
The website also has a downloadable symptom diary, where you can keep track of bloating etc. A great idea, because, if you are like me, it is easy to forget when those vague things happened and for how long. The diary can indicate to your doctor what you have been experiencing and when.
As for the risk factors, Ovarian Cancer Australia has this to say:
We don’t know the causes of most ovarian cancer. Research into the causes of ovarian cancer is continuing in Australia and overseas.
We do know that there are some factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer and that there are some protective factors that may reduce a woman’s risk.
It is important to know that many women who develop ovarian cancer do not have any known risk factors — while many women who do have risk factors never develop ovarian cancer.
The two main risk factors seem to be age and genetics. However, there are are other factors that may come into play.
- Being a white (Caucasian) woman living in a westernised country with a high standard of living.
- Being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent.
- Having no or few full-term pregnancies.
- Never taking oral contraceptives.
- Smoking cigarettes.
- Eating a high fat diet, or being overweight or obese.
- Multiple exposures to fertility drugs (studies are not conclusive).
- Using oestrogen-only hormone replacement therapy (HRT) for 10 or more years (studies are not conclusive).
- Genital contact with talcum or asbestos, which are sometimes used in talcum powders, douches and condoms (this is highly controversial and not proven). If you have any of these known or possible risk factors for ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor about what they may mean for you. If you and your doctor are concerned about your increased risk of ovarian cancer, you can ask to be referred to a gynaecological oncologist who can advise about ways of reducing the risk of developing ovarian cancer or suggest a surveillance program, which aims to look for early signs of the cancer.
Research goes on and money is needed to continue the research, as well as to support programmes that give help, comfort and advice to those women who have the cancer. Donations through the website are most welcome. (I am going to donate 50% of sales during February from my Etsy shop.)