Early detection crucial with ovarian cancer

Published on August 22, 2014

To the editor,
Twelve years ago I was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer, metastasized to my lungs, and have had the privilege of fairly good health and being involved as a volunteer with Ovarian Cancer Canada, the only organization solely devoted to research, education, awareness and support for this cancer. I have battled breast cancer twice, as a result of the BRCA1 gene which is associated with these cancers.

Ovarian cancer is the most fatal women’s cancer and approximately 2,600 Canadian women (about 75 in Nova Scotia) are diagnosed every year. There is NO early detection test (unlike breast and prostate) for ovarian cancer, and with signs and symptoms that can be vague and often misdiagnosed, ovarian cancer is not found until late stages. A women diagnosed in late stages has a five-year survival rate of less than 30 per cent. Yet when ovarian cancer is detected early, survival rates increase to 90 per cent.

The best chance for early discovery is for women to be educated about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer and to be aware of changes in their bodies. This disease requires women to be proactive and knowledgeable on the facts and risks of ovarian cancer.

Learn more about ovarian cancer at www.ovariancanada.org or calling toll free 1 866 825 0788, also offering support (ask for a free You Are Not Alone kit to those newly diagnosed )

Common warning symptoms:

Swelling or bloating of the abdomen; Pelvic discomfort or heaviness; Back or abdominal pain; Fatigue; Gas, nausea, indigestion; Change in bowel habits; Emptying your bladder frequently; Menstrual irregularities; Weight loss or weight gain

Other symptoms:

Mass or "lump" in your pelvis that you can feel; Feeling full; Pain with intercourse; Vaginal bleeding

If you have one or more of these symptoms and these symptoms persist for thee weeks or longer, see your health practitioner immediately.

Our biggest national fundraiser is the Walk of Hope on Sept 7 in 45 communities across Canada, with three of those in Nova Scotia. Please join me as I will be walking at the new location this year on the Halifax waterfront. See www.ovariancancerwalkofhope.ca (to register or sponsor someone) or call 1 877 413 7970

Pat McDonald

Summer Melmerby resident