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Ovarian cancer: know the signs

Ovarian cancer: know the signs

About one in 100 women will develop ovarian cancer before the age of 75. The good news is that if diagnosed and treated early the cure rate for ovarian cancer is 90 per cent. The bad news is that the early signs of ovarian cancer can be vague and often it’s only when the cancer is in the advance stages that it is diagnosed, at which stage the cancer is very difficult to treat.

According to Cancer Australia most women with ovarian cancer experience at least one symptom of the disease in the year prior to the diagnosis. Unfortunately there is still no routine screening test for ovarian cancer so it’s important that all women know the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and that they contact a GP if they have any concerns.

The four most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

Abdominal or pelvic pain. This is the most common presenting symptom for ovarian cancer and it is pain that lasts longer than two weeks and isn’t associated with diarrhoea or vomiting.

  • Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating.
  • Needing to urinate often and urgently.
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly.

Other symptoms can include irregular vaginal bleeding, gastro-intestinal symptoms such as heartburn, tiredness, appetite loss, and unexplained weight loss or weight gain.

While the cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown, there are some known factors that may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.  Age is the main risk factor, and women aged over 50 are more likely to develop ovarian cancer. Having no or few full-term pregnancies, never taking oral contraceptives, smoking cigarettes, being overweight and multiple exposures to fertility drugs are also risk factors. However ovarian cancer can affect women of all ages and lifestyle so it’s important that you know the symptoms and see a doctor if you have any questions or con

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