Adaku Efuribe (Clinical Pharmacist/Good Health & Well-being coach)

What every woman should know about Ovarian Cancer

SILENT KILLER The 7 red-flag symptoms of ovarian cancer

Sometimes as career women or home makers , we are always very busy with our daily tasks, we may not have enough time to engage in self care and we do not report all our symptoms to the doctor in good time.

I’ve had a few patients and friends tell me they don’t want to bother their doctors with their symptoms so they tend to trivialize their symptoms and wish them away.

Evidence has shown that ovarian cancer symptoms could mimic symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and other symptoms as well.

Ovarian cancer, is one of the most common types of cancer in women. The ovaries are a pair of small organs located in the lower part of the ‘tummy’ connected to the womb and they store the reproductive eggs. Ovarian cancer mainly affects women who have been through the menopause (usually over the age of 50), but it can sometimes affect younger women.

According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, ‘Most women with ovarian cancer are diagnosed with advanced-stage disease (Stage III or IV). This is because the symptoms of ovarian cancer, particularly in the early stages, often are not acute or intense, and present vaguely. In most cases, ovarian cancer is not detected during routine pelvic exams, unless the doctor notes that the ovary is enlarged. The sooner ovarian cancer is found and treated, the better a woman’s chance for survival. It is important to know that early stage symptoms can be difficult to detect, though are not always silent. As a result, it is important that women listen to their bodies and watch for early symptoms that may present.

Screening Tests

Although there is no consistently-reliable screening test to detect ovarian cancer, the following tests are available and should be offered to women, especially those women at high risk for the disease:

Pelvic Exam: Women age 18 and older should have a mandatory annual vaginal exam. Women age 35 and older should receive an annual rectovaginal exam (physician inserts fingers in the rectum and vagina simultaneously to feel for abnormal swelling and to detect tenderness).

Transvaginal Sonography: This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate, especially for women at high risk for ovarian cancer, or for those with an abnormal pelvic exam.

CA-125 Test: This blood test determines if the level of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells, has increased in the blood of a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer, or a woman with an abnormal pelvic examination.

While CA-125 is an important test, it is not always a key marker for the disease. Some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries can also increase CA-125 levels, and some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 levels to cause a positive test. For these reasons the CA-125 test is not routinely used as a screening test for those at average risk for ovarian cancer’.

Often symptoms are mistaken for IBS or PMS — and delaying in seeking help is killing too many women

Persistent abdominal distension, difficulty eating, pelvic or abdominal pain or urinary urgency more than 12 times a month

SILENT KILLER The 7 red-flag symptoms of ovarian cancer — from bloating to back pain

· Bloating

· Pain in your belly or pelvic area

· Feeling full quickly when eating

· Needing to pee more often

· Back pain

· Change in poo habits

· Unexplained weight loss

We ought to be body vigilant at all times and look after our health. If you are feeling unwell or having any of the symptoms discussed in this article please see your doctor.

“Many of us, we have a hard time putting ourselves on our own priority list, let alone at the top of it,” she said. “And that’s what happens when it comes to our health as women. We are so busy giving and doing for others that we almost feel guilty to take that time out for ourselves.” Michelle Obama

Ref: National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Assessed 5/8/2020 http://ovarian.org/about-ovarian-cancer/how-am-i-diagnosed

NHS https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/ovarian-cancer/

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Adaku Efuribe

Adaku Efuribe

Forbes Ignite Featured- Creates Social Impact & Sustainability | Health Promotion Ambassador |UN SDGs Advocate