Health | The Hard Facts about Ovarian Cancer

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Today (May 8) marks World Ovarian Cancer Day with women all over Ireland encouraged to become educated and aware of the signs of this common and dangerous disease.

Ovarian cancer is now the 4th most common female cancer in Ireland with 360 women diagnosed each year with the disease.

An early diagnosis may enable the disease to become more treatable, with women being encouraged to look out for the key symptoms. This includes;

  • Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating
  • Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Needing to pass urine more urgently or more frequently

When ovarian cancer is detected at an early stage, when the cancer remains confined to the ovary, up to 90 per cent of women are likely to survive for more than five years.

Despite what many people believe, a smear test does not detect ovarian cancer. It only detects pre-cancerous changes to cells of the cervix, which is treated much more successfully than ovarian cancer.

Unfortunately, there is no accurate and reliable screening test for ovarian cancer. There are a number of factors increases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.

The majority of cases of ovarian cancer occur in women over the age of 55, once women have gone through menopause. Some types of ovarian cancer can appear in young women. Women who may be at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer are those who on either their father’s or mother’s side of the family have two or more relatives who have had ovarian, breast, colon or uterine cancer.

Being a known carrier of abnormalities in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 also increases the risk. Women who have never take the pill, had children or started their periods at an early age have a reportedly higher risk of developing ovarian cancer.

If you have any concerns, please check out www.cancer.ie for further information and details.