by Sharon Platt-McDonald
The seven National Health Service periods of health focus for March include:
- 1-31 – Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
- 1-7 – Eating Disorders Awareness Week
- 10 – No Smoking Day
- 11 – World Kidney Day
- 11 – 18 – Nutrition and Hydration Week
- 19 – World Sleep Day
- 20 – World Oral Health Day
In this issue we focus on ovarian cancer, as well as some of the activities you can engage in to raise awareness and funds to combat it this month.
Here are some key facts from Cancer Research UK’s website:1
- Ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer, with around 7,300 new cases in the UK in 2017.
- Each year more than a quarter (28%) of all new ovarian cancer cases in the UK are diagnosed in females aged 75 and over.
- Almost six out of ten ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at a late stage.
- Ovarian cancer is more common in white women than in Asian or black women.
- Ovarian cancer accounts for 5% of all cancer deaths in females in the UK.
- Ovarian cancer survival in England is highest for women diagnosed before reaching 40 years of age.
- Ovarian cancer survival is improving, and has almost doubled in the last 40 years in the UK.
Cancer Research UK state that an individual’s risk of developing cancer is influenced by numerous factors, such as age, genetics, and exposure to risk factors (including some potentially avoidable lifestyle factors).2
Their research found that:
- One in 50 UK females will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in their lifetime.
- Eleven percent of UK ovarian cancer cases are preventable.
Studies from Cancer Research UK found the following specific risk factors:3
- Getting older
- Being overweight or obese
- Taking hormone therapy after menopause
- Having a family history for cancer, such as ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer
- Suffering from Peutz-Jeghers syndrome
- Undertaking fertility treatment
When Anne began experiencing lower abdominal pain, she initially thought it was probably indigestion. However, when her symptoms persisted and she started noticing stomach bloating, feeling full quickly when eating and back pain, she realised it could be something more serious.
Now in menopause, Anne became concerned about other symptoms as well, such as pelvic discomfort and painful intercourse, none of which she experienced before. A visit to her GP instigated further investigations, such as scans and blood tests.
The diagnosis of ovarian cancer was a shock to Anne. However, her GP told her that, as they had ‘caught it early’, her treatment options were likely to be successful.
This month’s project, Target Ovarian Cancer,4 states that funds raised will go towards:
- Training GPs to spot ovarian cancer
- Raising awareness of the symptoms
- Supporting more women with ovarian cancer