Know the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer has been called ‘the cancer that whispers’ because of its vague symptoms and lack of effective screening. But more and more women and health care providers are speaking out about this ‘silent killer’.
“Unfortunately, only about 19 per cent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed before the cancer has spread outside the ovaries,” says Dr. Orit Freedman, a Medical Oncologist at The Scarborough Hospital. “However, when ovarian cancer is found after it has spread, while it’s sometimes not curable, it is treatable.”
One of the most important parts of the treatment is the patient’s initial surgery. The Scarborough Hospital has partnered with Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre to have their surgical oncologists participate in ovarian cancer surgeries at TSH so that patients have the best outcomes possible.
Risk factors for ovarian cancer can include:
- Having a personal or family history of breast, ovarian or colon cancer
- Being post-menopausal
- Being obese
- Infertility and using fertility drugs.
Dr. Freedman encourages women to be aware of the following common symptoms that persist almost daily for two weeks or more:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary urgency or frequency.
In addition, other symptoms of ovarian cancer may include:
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
- Unexplained changes in bowel habits
- Unexplained changes weight gain or loss
- Ongoing unusual fatigue.
“Talk to your family doctor about any concerns you may have about ovarian cancer and ways you can reduce your risk,” says Dr. Freedman. “General information about ovarian cancer can also be found on the Ovarian Cancer Canada website at http://www.ovariancanada.org/.”