Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Cancers below the waist

There was a fundraising walk in Montreal recently, for “cancers below the waist.” It was billed as the cancer walk for cancers that we don’t talk about: prostate cancer, colon cancer, penile cancer, all those types. And one of those below the waist cancers is in the news again: ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is one of the scariest for women because it is so hard to detect it before it has progressed quite far. Unlike breast or testicular cancer, where you may feel a lump, or colon cancer where you may start having bloody stools or pain, or it’s detected by routine colonoscopy, you can’t tell you have ovarian cancer easily. That’s why it’s often called the silent killer.

According to the most recent statistics from the National Cancer Institute of Canada (2004), there are 2,300 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed in 2004. There were 1,950 deaths in Canada that year because of ovarian cancer.

Many of the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are physical discomforts that most women put up with, especially during their menstrual cycle. What woman hasn’t felt boated? Had the urge to void frequently? Been nauseous? Had difficulty eating or feeling full quickly? The problem is, when these symptoms go on for more than a short period, or they all happen together, they can be a sign of ovarian cancer.

According to the latest news, released by the American Cancer Society and some other groups, if a woman have any of those symptoms daily for at least three weeks, she should see her doctor as soon as possible.

Of course, having just those signs doesn’t mean that a woman has ovarian cancer. Those symptoms could mean irritable bowel syndrome, for example. So then we also need to take into account other facts, like family history. According to the Canadian Cancer Society , you have a higher chance of having ovarian cancer if you:

- Are older than 50 years old
- Have a family history of ovarian cancer
- Are taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

- Some experts feel that an increased risk may also be present if you:
- Have used fertility drugs
- Started menstruating late and/or went through menopause early.

The society also offers a more comprehensive list of symptoms of ovarian cancer, in addition to the bloating, abdominal pain, frequent urination, decreased appetite and feeling full too early:

- Abdominal swelling
- Indigestion
- Upset stomach
- Gas
- Change in bowel habits
- Fatigue
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Menstrual disorders
- Pain during intercourse

Women have beaten ovarian cancer but the trick is to make sure it’s found early enough. Don’t be worried or embarrassed about getting checked. If it’s not ovarian cancer, that’s wonderful! There’s no need to feel that you shouldn’t have been checked. It’s much better to be checked and know that there is nothing wrong, than to neglect it and to die because of it.

News for today:
Lack of sleep harms heart response: study
Symptoms Found for Early Check on Ovary Cancer
Study: Bullies prone to sleep problems

1 comment:

Dawn said...

I'm one of the women who put of those essential checks. Your post is a timely reminder.