If one morning you woke up with a big lump or growth on your arm, well you would certainly head to the doctor to get it looked at. But what happens when that lump is on the inside and so is invisible to the naked eye? This can be the challenge in trying to tune in to some internal cancers which frequently go undetected in their early stages. Ovarian cancer is one such cancer and is often called a silent killer because the early signs can hide as other symptoms.
But that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to look out for and the recent BEAT campaign lead by the charity Breakthrough Cancer Research summarised these potential signs in this handy acronym.
BEAT spells out the signs to be aware of and empowers us to know our bodies, know the signs and get help at an early stage if we have any of the following signs for 3 weeks or more:
Bloating that is persistent and doesn’t come and go
Eating less and feeling full more quickly
Abdominal and pelvic pain you feel most days
Talk to your GP about your symptoms
So while the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be confused with other illnesses, the key difference is that these symptoms are persistent and do not come and go. 361 Irish women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year with 266 women dying each year from the disease. It is because the symptoms can be similar to other conditions, they can often be ignored which can lead to late stage diagnosis. While there have been many advances in the diagnosis and treatment of many other cancers, ovarian cancer has had little improvement in its prognosis over the last 20 years.
In our very modern lives we are all so busy, often putting our needs after the needs of our families or work and we hate to bother the GP unless we are sure we are really sick. But it is so important to be aware of changes in your stomach, pelvis and abdomen and to speak to a GP when you are concerned.
You may not know that in the last two months GP’s all over Ireland have received new referral guidelines, so they are best placed to help you determine if your symptoms are of concern and/or warrant further investigation. Early diagnosis is the key for successful ovarian cancer treatment and given that it is the fourth most common female cancer it is vital women take notice and listen to the Beat of their bodies.
Watch this video:
Now I don’t want everyone reading this to panic, ovarian cancer is rare and so even if you have some of the signs we have been talking about, it will very likely turn out to be something trivial, not anything as serious as cancer, but isn’t it always better to be safe than sorry? There is no doubt that for those Irish women who are diagnosed that early diagnosis is the key for successful ovarian cancer treatment.
If you do need to go to your GP with some of the potential symptoms you can expect that he or she will take one or more of the following steps, as needed, to help determine whats going on.
But let me finish with this important message from Kate McNamara who herself was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and I am thrilled to say has been cancer free for over 4 years. Kate is now encouraging women to pay attention to their bodies, “Tackling ovarian cancer forced me to switch from the role of ringleader to that of spectator. Once I was in treatment there was not much I could control and yet ovarian cancer can be beaten if you spot the signs early enough and listen to your body. Having gone through the devastation of the diagnosis, the importance of time loomed large for me. Do not allow time to slip by, by making excuses. If you are not happy, if there is something niggling you, have it checked without delay”
So - Know the Signs, Know the Symptoms and help BEAT Ovarian Cancer
To support the tremendous work of Breakthrough Cancer Research to develop new treatments for ovarian cancer go to: www.breakthroughcancerresearch.ie
For more information about ovarian cancer go to: www.ovarian-cancer.ie