Each February, Ovarian Cancer Australia asks us to take a moment to recognise women and their families who are affected by ovarian cancer, and to make sure we all know the signs, symptoms and risk factors.
Ovarian cancer risk factors
Ovarian cancer is most common in women over 50 who have been through menopause, but it can affect women of all ages. The main risk factors are age and genetics – family history is responsible for at least 15% of ovarian cancers – but lifestyle factors such as being overweight or eating a high fat diet may also increase your risk.
Recognising the symptoms
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose, because the signs and symptoms can be attributed to a range of common (and often less serious) health problems.
The four symptoms more frequently reported by women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are:
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating
- Needing to urinate often or urgently
- Feeling full after eating a small amount
Other symptoms may include unexplained weight gain or weight loss, changes in your bowel movements, bleeding in between periods or after menopause, back pain, indigestion or nausea, excessive fatigue, and pain during intercourse.
These are things that many women will experience from time to time, so there is no need to panic if you are noticing them. However, if they are unusual for you and you have been experiencing them several times over a four-week period, visit your GP. It can be helpful to download Ovarian Cancer Australia’s Symptom Diary to help you monitor your symptoms, giving you a detailed report that you can show your doctor to help with their assessment.
Show your support during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Throughout February, Ovarian Cancer Australia hosts a range of activities and events to raise awareness and funds for support, education and research programs – check out the website to see what’s going on near you and get involved.