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Did you know that deaths from ovarian cancer are nearly four times more common amongst UK women than cervical cancer?
Probably not. That’s why March 2016 has been designated Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, marking a joint initiative by leading cancer charities such as Target Ovarian Cancer and Ovacome to bridge the current knowledge gap about a potentially fatal disease that many women may still be unfortunately unaware of.
So let’s look at some discomforting facts…
Around 7000 women in the UK are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year – yet, unlike cervical cancer, there is still no organised screening programme for this more common female cancer available through the NHS.
According to research by Target Ovarian Cancer, a quarter of women who were eventually diagnosed with the disease had waited three months or more before visiting their GP after first detecting potential warning sign symptoms. If the GP does not immediately connect these symptoms with the possibility of ovarian cancer, then it could take another six months to get a correct diagnosis … which, sadly, could be six months too late.
The problem is that initial symptoms can all too easily be confused with other common conditions such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS) and, in many cases, the disease can develop without any outwardly evident symptoms whatsoever.
The good news, however, is that over 90% of women diagnosed during the early stage of the disease have every chance of surviving for many more years after successful treatment.
The simple truth is that no doctor or scientist has so far been able to identify what causes ovarian cancer – a disease that recognises no defined boundaries in terms of age, wealth, lifestyle or social status.
US President Barrack Obama and actress Angelina Jolie both lost their mothers to ovarian cancer at relatively young ages.
Two times Olympic champion gymnast Shannon Miller showed no symptoms before being diagnosed with ovarian cancer during a routine check-up in her early thirties. A born winner, she determinedly continued her rigorous daily fitness regime throughout chemotherapy and gave birth to a healthy daughter just over a year after completing her treatment.
Actress Heather Menzies, most famous for her role as Louisa Von Trapp in The Sound of Music, also survived ovarian cancer and went on to found her own foundation for cancer research.
Jessica Tandy died of ovarian cancer only a year after receiving her Best Actress Oscar for Driving Miss Daisy, while Broadway musical legend Carol Channing who was diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer as long ago as the 1960s is still going strong in her nineties today.
It can affect anyone, anytime and anywhere, so it is entirely possible that you or someone you know has also been touched by a friend or relative contracting ovarian cancer in the past. All the more reason, therefore, to start thinking about how you could do your bit in helping to save women’s lives by giving your full support to Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
As well as heightened media coverage to draw attention to the issue during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, there are tremendous opportunities for people from all walks of life to get behind the campaign and take part in a wide range of fundraising activities and events.
To coincide with Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, more articles will be coming your way in the coming weeks where we’ll be looking in more detail at such subjects as identifying symptoms, who might be most at risk and some of the myths and misconceptions surrounding this still mystery-shrouded disease.
In the meantime, if you are suffering any abnormalities in your normal pattern of health and are worried about a possible link to ovarian cancer, why not contact the Edinburgh Clinic to book an immediate assessment appointment with one of our consultant gynaecologists? For more information on the range of services offered by our Gynae Clinic, go to www.edinburghclinic.com/services/gynae-health-clinic