1st March kicks off Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a month-long campaign devoted to raising awareness and funds to help with earlier detection and treatment of ovarian cancer. Awareness is key, as ovarian is the cancer that causes more than 50% of the deaths from all gynaecological cancers.
The Eve Appeal are the only UK national charity raising awareness and funding research into the five gynaecological cancers – womb, ovarian, cervical, vulval and vaginal.
There are four main ovarian cancer symptoms that are more prevalent in women diagnosed with the condition. They are:
- increased abdominal size and persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
- persistent pelvic and abdominal pain
- unexplained change in bowel habits
- difficulty eating and feeling full quickly, or feeling nauseous
Other symptoms, such as back pain, needing to pass urine more frequently than usual, and pain during sex may be present in some women with the disease; however, it is most likely that these are not symptoms of ovarian cancer but may be the result of other conditions in the pelvic area.
If ovarian cancer symptoms are identified and the cancer diagnosed at an early stage, the outcome is optimistic. However, because some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often the same as for other less serious conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS), it can be difficult to recognise the symptoms in the early stages – which is why most women are not diagnosed until the disease has spread.Every day in the UK, 58 women are diagnosed with a gynaecological cancer and of them, 21 will die. Yet despite these grim statistics, gynaecological cancers are neither a well-profiled nor a well-funded cause. They’re not the ‘trendy’ cancer that people are keen to show support for. They’re all but ignored by the beauty industry – the irony. They don’t waste their supporters’ money on fancy celeb parties, and they speak in correct anatomical terms, when it’s easier for a lot of people to talk in baby speak when it comes to vaginas, ovaries, wombs, the cervix and god forbid, the vulva.
Please, please, consider supporting The Eve Appeal in any way you can. Monthly donations, for the simple price of your daily coffee, can literally be life-saving.
In the meantime, more information about the signs of all five gynae cancers can be found here: eveappeal.org.uk/gynaecological-cancers/
And if you have any questions – ANY questions about gynae cancers, or you’re worried about potential symptoms that you are showing and you want to talk to someone confidentially, you can do so on the Ask Eve hotline: eveappeal.org.uk/supporting-you/ask-eve/