Ovarian cancer is the deadliest gynaecological disease. The American Cancer Society says that among the gynaecological cancers, ovarian cancer has the highest rate of deaths. Unfortunately, it is difficult to catch in its early stages. This is why women should pay attention to their bodies for any unusual changes.
WHAT IS OVARIAN CANCER?
The ovaries are part of a woman’s reproductive system. When cancer starts in the ovaries, it is called ovarian cancer. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs.
WHO IS AT RISK OF DEVELOPING OVARIAN CANCER?
All women are at risk of developing ovarian cancer, however ovarian cancer risk increases with age. Older women are more likely to get the disease than younger women.
WHAT ARE THE SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER?
In many cases, early stages of ovarian cancer do not present any symptoms.
PRIMARY SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER
Pelvic or abdominal pain Feeling the need to urinate frequently Prolonged bloating – which is when the area below your stomach swells or feels full. Difficulty eating or feeling full too quickly SECONDARY SYMPTOMS OF OVARIAN CANCER Irregular periods or vaginal bleeding after menopause Constipation Menstrual changes Back pain Upset stomach, heartburn Pain during intercourse
Please note that these symptoms may be caused by conditions other than ovarian cancer, however, if you have any of these symptoms, please speak to your doctor.
DOES THE PAP TEST SCREEN FOR OVARIAN CANCER?
The Pap test does not screen for ovarian cancer. The only cancer the Pap test screens for is cervical cancer.
Ovarian cancer can be hard to diagnose as the symptoms are similar to other common conditions. This means that it is often picked up late by which time the disease has often spread. Fortunately, if it is detected early, it can be treated successfully before it gets to this stage.
KNOW YOUR NORMAL
Women should pay attention to their bodies and know what is normal for them. For example, If you have abnormal vaginal bleeding,see a doctor immediately.
If you have any of the other symptoms we mentioned earlier for two weeks or longer, you should see a doctor. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor.
Treatment is most effective when ovarian cancer is found and treated early.
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