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Health & Safety

Ovarian Cancer, One of the Most Fatal Cancers

Hamad Medical Corporation’s (HMC) Women’s Hospital is continuing to raise awareness of gynaecological cancers, such as ovarian cancer, among women in Qatar, by advising them to watch out for unusual signs and symptoms that are not normal for them.

Ovarian cancer has been identified to be the leading cause of death out of the gynaecological cancers, in Europe and the United States, and also the fifth leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. But when ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, it can be very treatable.

Dr Afaf Al Ansari, Senior Consultant, Gynecological Oncology at HMC’s Women’s Hospital, explained:

The incidence of ovarian cancer increases with age, with the average age of diagnosis being 63. More than 70% of cases present with advanced disease because the symptoms are vague and non-specific, such as bloating, abdominal distention and early fullness.’

She highlighted that known risk factors for ovarian cancer are having a first child later in life, obesity, a menstrual cycle that started at a young age, a late menopause, genetic predisposition and certain fertility drugs.

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries, each about the size of an almond, produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen and progesterone.’

Dr Al Ansari explained that ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread within the pelvis and abdomen.

She added:

 

At this late stage, ovarian cancer is more difficult to treat and can be fatal. Early-stage ovarian cancer, when the disease is confined to the ovary, is more likely to be treated successfully.’

‘Early ovarian cancer often has no signs or symptoms, and any that exist are often mild, making this disease difficult to detect. This means it is very important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. If you think something is different or you detect changes in your body it may be that it is caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know for sure is to see your doctor.’

Ovarian cancer may cause one or more of these signs and symptoms: unusual feeling of fullness, bloating in the area below the stomach, pain in the pelvic or abdominal area (the area below the stomach and between the hip bones); back pain; pain during sexual intercourse; abnormal bleeding and a change in bathroom habits such as having to pass urine urgently or very often, constipation, or diarrhea.

Dr Al Ansari added:

Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you. If you have bleeding that is not normal for you, see a doctor right away. Also see a doctor if you have any of the other signs for two weeks or longer and they are not normal for you. The earlier ovarian cancer is found and treated, the more likely the treatment will be effective.’

Earlier this month, which is Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month, the Women’s Hospital joined Globe-athon – a worldwide movement that aims to build community awareness of cancers affecting women.

Gynecological cancers impact women worldwide, accounting for 19% of the 5.1 million estimated new cancer cases each year, according to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) International Agency for Research on Cancer.

Globe-athon, which started as a relay foot race in the Unites States in September 2013, has grown into a worldwide initiative of over 60 countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan. The aim of the campaign is to reduce the incidence of and deaths from gynaecological cancers by educating the public on their curable and preventable nature.

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