Ovarian Cancer Is Often Found Too Late, so What Are the Symptoms To Look Out For?

Ovarian Cancer Is Often Found Too Late, so What Are the Symptoms To Look Out For?
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Ovarian cancer is known as the most lethal gynaecological cancer there is. One woman in Australia dies from this disease every eight hours, and according to data shared by the Ovarian Cancer Research Foundation (OCRF) and Witchery, around 70 per cent of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the late stages.

The data is bleak, but the powerful news to take here is that if detected early enough, the OCRF states that over 90 per cent of patients could be cured.

So, how do we improve the rates of early detection?

Currently, there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer. Unlike cervical cancer screenings or mammograms, the only way to accurately diagnose ovarian cancer is with invasive surgery.

There appears to be a dangerous misconception about this fact. The OCRF shared that 50 per cent of women believe that pap smears can detect ovarian cancer. They don’t.

What this means is that we heavily rely on the presence of symptoms for early detection. That presents another issue, however.

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle

Adding to the list of difficulties presented by this silent and deadly disease is the fact that the symptoms are synonymous with a number of common and not particularly dangerous conditions.

These include:

  • Vague abdominal pain or pressure
  • Feeling of abdominal fullness, gas, nausea, indigestion—different to your normal sensations
  • Sudden abdominal swelling, weight gain or bloating
  • Persistent changes in bowel or bladder patterns
  • Low backache or cramps
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Unexplained weight loss

Before you become too concerned, however, note that the OCRF stated:

“If you have one or two of the listed symptoms, you most likely do not have ovarian cancer. That said, a greater combination of symptoms, or symptoms which persist or are unusual for you, should be investigated by a medical professional.”

So pay attention to your body, and if you’re ever concerned, make an appointment to chat with your GP.

This is why funding is imperative

It may sound surprising, but survival rates for this kind of cancer have not improved in two decades. According to the OCRF, the five-year survival rate is just 48 per cent. This is a pretty clear indication that what is needed here is a better means of diagnosing the disease early.

For that, researchers need funds. This is why organisations like the OCRF and the Ovarian Cancer Research Group, UNSW Medicine are in dire need of support.

Witchery White Shirt Campaign 2022

white shirt campaign ovarian cancer
Images supplied: Lisa Wilkinson, Emma Watkins and Maria Thattil, White Shirt Campaign for Ovarian Cancer research

Over the years, Witchery’s White Shirt Campaign has contributed over $14.3 million to research. One hundred per cent of gross proceeds from White Shirts sold go to the OCRF every year. Impressive, no?

This year’s White Shirt Campaign has a long list of incredible ambassadors, including Jesinta Franklin, Julie Bishop, Lisa Wilkinson, Maria Thattil, Thelma Plum, Laura Byrne, Brittany Hockley, Emma Watkins, Allison Langdon, Hanan Ibrahim, Francesca Hung, Kylie Gillies and Ovarian Cancer Ambassador, Jordan Turner.

The 2022 White Shirt Campaign shirt has been designed in collaboration with Australian designer, Michael Lo Sordo. It is available in sizes from 4 to 20 for $129.95. The campaign runs from April 20 through to May 8, 2022.

If you’d like to get involved and throw some cash behind an important cause, you can purchase a Witchery shirt here.

This article has been updated to reflect the details of the 2022 Witchery White Shirt Campaign for Ovarian Cancer fundraising.

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