THOUGH LESS COMMON than breast cancer, ovarian cancer causes proportionately more fatalities because the disease is typically less easy to diagnose – and hence is usually discovered at a more advanced stage. Survival rates are significantly enhanced if it is detected early.
Symptoms to look out for:
- vague abdominal pain or pressure
- sudden abdominal swelling
- weight gain or bloating
- persistent changes in bowel or bladder patterns
- low backache or cramps
- abdominal vaginal bleeding
- pain during intercourse
- inexplicable weight loss
A conclusive diagnosis usually cannot be made until the ovary tissue is examined under a
microscope following a biopsy or surgery.
There are four kinds of ovarian cancer, but nine in ten cases are epithelial ovarian cancers,
where cancer cells typically cover the surface of the ovary. When diagnosing the type and
grade of ovarian cancer, it is important to establish if the cancer has spread beyond the
ovaries – this determines if recurrence is likely after surgery or treatment.