Today's post is written by the VP team's own kaberett! We hope you'll enjoy reading and we invite you to discuss at will in the comments! :)
[image with the OvaCome and BEAT Ovarian Cancer logos. Text: recognise the signs and BEAT ovarian cancer. B is for BLOATING – it's persistent and doesn't come and go. E is for EATING – difficulty eating and feeling full more quickly. A is for ABDOMINAL – and pelvic pain you feel most days. T is for TALKING – tell your GP.]
March was Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, in the UK and further afield. This is a topic pretty close to my heart: both my mum and my grandma survived ovarian cancer. In my mum's case, the fact that she knew about the symptoms in advance meant she didn't dismiss them as a UTI or IBS or an early menopause: she was able to get a diagnosis much earlier, and that in turn massively improved her prognosis.
Ovarian cancer is a scary one. It's the ninth most common cancer among women with ovaries, but it's the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death and the most lethal gynaecological cancer. In the UK, there are 6,800 new diagnoses each year. In the US, it's estimated at 22,000 new cases per year. The relative five-year survival rate is 46% - much lower than for other cancers affecting primarily people with ovaries – and this hasn't budged in forty years. The major reason for this is diagnostic delay - most people (62%) aren't diagnosed until the cancer's spread to distant organs and lymph nodes. For people diagnosed at Stage 1 – when the cancer is still localised to the ovaries – the five-year survival rate rockets up to 93.8%.
Early diagnosis is key, and it's easy to do – all it takes in the first instance is an ultrasound or CT scan. So this is what OvaCome has been focussing on this month: raising awareness of symptoms, so people like my mum don't ignore things until it's too late. Let's work together to BEAT ovarian cancer! We can start with the four steps mentioned above:
B is for BLOATING – it's persistent & doesn't come and go
E is for EATING – difficulty with eating, and feeling full more quickly
A is for ABDOMINAL and pelvic pain – present on most days
T is for TALKING – get in touch with your primary care provider!
... but there's plenty of other resources available too!
- Check out OvaCome's fact sheets and online symptoms checker - and if you're in the UK, they also offer an online community and one-on-one phone or e-mail support
- If you're in the US, wander over to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance to find a support group near you, plus fact sheets and an online community
- Stats from Austrlia, plus the Ovarian Cancer Australia info and support network
- The Mayo Clinic offers a list of symptoms to check against
- HuffPo has a slideshow of famous people who've had brushes with ovarian cancer
- Ovations for the cure discusses up-to-date research on treatment methods
And let's not forget the talking. Have you had or known people with ovarian cancer? Want to talk about it? Do you know of other resources or groups that people might find helpful? (Especially, I'm aware I've only tracked down links for the English-speaking world.) Please let us know about them!