Lifestyle

10 things about ovarian cancer you might not have known

OVARIAN Cancer Australia has released figures that show awareness for ovarian cancer has increased over the last 12 months, yet still 1000 Australian women die from the disease every year, and it has the worst survival rate of any women's cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Australia CEO Alison Amos said awareness was on the increase. 

"This year we have seen a significant rise in engagement with members of the public on the issues surrounding ovarian cancer," she said.

"During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in February we reached an audience of nearly 60 million with our campaign - an increase of 25 million compared with the year before. 

"We are creating new conversations about ovarian cancer every day and increasing awareness of the signs and symptoms.

"In a survey, 44 per cent of the general population knew that ovarian cancer had symptoms, but we still have a long way to go."

Ms Amos said that the organisation relied on funding for campaigns such as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, which this year had more than 11,000 attendees to their Afternoon Teal campaign and raised more than $320,000.

Online campaigns have also been very successful in raising awareness, such as the charity's IPhone Symptom Diary App which has been downloaded by more than 4300 people.

"We received more than 415,000 website hits last year, which represents a growth of over 45 per cent from the previous year," Ms Amos said. 

Ms Amos said that corporate partners such as national furniture chain Plush had helped to fund these much-needed awareness campaigns.

"We rely heavily on corporate investment," she said.

"Last year Plush raised a huge $85,000 as a result of its 'Snuggle Chair' campaign, whereby $50 is donated to Ovarian Cancer Australia from every Snuggle Chair sold."

Ms Amos said that more than $400,000 had been raised by corporate partners in 2014 yet whilst this was a significant amount, more funding was required to support  the ongoing work of the organisation which focuses on providing support to those affected; raising awareness of the disease; delivering advocacy and guiding and funding research.

"Raising awareness about symptoms is a crucial part of this effort and the only key we have to early diagnosis and treatment," she said.

"With more funding we can start to see a real impact on disease prevention and recovery."

10 things you might not have known about ovarian cancer

1. Did you know that ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of any women's cancer and has a five
year survival rate well below the average for all cancers?

2. Each year 1400 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and more than 1000 will die
from the disease - that's one woman every eight hours.

3. Each day in Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the
disease.

4. Ovarian cancer most commonly affects women aged over 50 who have been through menopause;
however the disease can affect women of all ages.

5. There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer so the best way of detecting the disease is to know and recognise the symptoms which most commonly include: abdominal or pelvic pain, increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating, the need to urinate often or urgently, or feeling full after eating a small amount.

6. If diagnosed early, the majority of women can survive.

Unfortunately, the majority of women are diagnosed with advanced stages of the disease.

7. In Australia, the overall five year survival rate for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 43%.

In comparison, the overall five year survival rate for women diagnosed with breast cancer is 89%.

8. Genetics and family history are responsible for at least 15% of ovarian cancers.

If a woman has two or more relatives from the same side of the family affected by ovarian or ovarian and breast cancer her risk of developing the disease may be increased.

This tends to be a result of an inherited faulty gene (BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation) that increases a woman's risk of developing both cancers.

9. Other risk factors women ought to be aware of include:

  • Being over 50 years of age;
  • Never having children, being unable to have children, or having children after 30;
  • Never having used oral contraceptives;
  • Having endometriosis;
  • Lifestyle factors: such as smoking tobacco, being overweight or eating a high fat diet
  • Hormonal factors: including early puberty (menstruating before 12) or late menopause (onset after 50).

10. Ovarian Cancer Australia is a not-for-profit organisation founded in 2001 by people who had been
affected by ovarian cancer, either themselves or through someone they loved.

It provides support for women and their families, raises community awareness of ovarian cancer, advocates for improved services for women and promotes world class ovarian cancer research to help save lives and ensure
no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.

For further information about Ovarian Cancer Australia visit: www.ovariancancer.net.au.

Topics:  cancer, editors picks, ovarian cancer



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