March is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month here in the UK. It's the 6th most common cancer in women and kills 1 woman every 2 hours.
That's a pretty scary statistic, but it could shift if more women knew the symptoms to look out for. In fact it's currently estimated that around 90% of women don't know the Four Main Symptoms:
FEELING FULL QUICKLY OR HAVING DIFFICULTY EATING
NEEDING TO URINATE MORE FREQUENTLY
One of the biggest problems is that bloating and needing to urinate more frequently are considered by many woman as just normal parts of being over 40 and getting older, which means that we often don't go and see our GP. We can assume that it's just another part of the menopause journey, or stress, or a whole number of other things - oh, we are so good at self-diagnosing and dismissing things aren't we!
Our risk of developing Ovarian Cancer increases as we age, with most cases (but by no means all) being after the age of 55. Other risk factors include:
Having a family member who's had ovarian or bowel cancer;
Going through menopause after 55
Starting your periods before the age of 12
Not having had children
There is some indication that HRT may slightly increase your risk
As with so many cancers, an early diagnosis gives you the greatest chance of recovery, so make sure that you know the symptoms, share this article with your female friends and family so that they know what to look out for, and most importantly see your GP if you notice that you have these symptoms - don't dismiss them. How we age is up to us, and that means taking good care of ourselves and our health.