Our Women's Health Series keeps moving with an overview this week of Ovarian Cancer. Dr. Nick shares the need-to-knows and how you can diagnose this disease...
This type of cancer, as the name suggests, develops from the ovaries and is the 5th most common cancer in women in the UK. It is most common in women over the age of 60, but unfortunately is the leading cause of death of any gynaecological cancer. The reason for this is that symptoms are often vague and by the time it’s diagnosed, the cancer has spread into the local tissues making it much harder to treat effectively.
Who is at risk?
- Women over 50 years of age
- HRT users – especially if taken for a long time
- Having started your periods before 12 years old and menopause after 52 years old
- Being overweight
- Family history of ovarian or breast cancer
- If you’ve never been pregnant
- Suffers of polycystic ovary syndrome
If you have used the combined oral contraceptive and previously had a hysterectomy, both reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.
What to look for:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Feeling full quickly when eating
- Discomfort in the pelvic area
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Changes in bowel habits
- A frequent need to urinate
- Back pain
- Pain in the lower abdomen when having sex
What is Endometrial Cancer?
It is a cancer that arises from the inner lining of the womb. It is the fourth most common cancer in women in the UK, with the majority of women being over the age of 50. If diagnosed early it has an excellent prognosis.
Who is at risk?
As the cancer is directly linked to the natural hormone oestrogen, the more exposure you have had, the greater the risk. This includes:
- Age of menarche and menopause – This means that the younger you were when you started your periods (menarche) and the older you were when your periods stopped, the longer your exposure to oestrogen has been
- Those over 50
- Obesity – Fat cells produce oestrogen
- Few or no pregnancies – When you’re pregnant your body doesn’t produce oestrogen, therefore less exposure than someone who has never been pregnant
Other risks include:
- Tamoxifen treatment
- PCOS - Polycystic Ovary Syndrome
What to look out for:
- Bleeding after the menopause
- Bleeding in-between periods
- Blood when passing urine
- Vaginal discharge
- Bleeding after sex or pain during
- Abdominal pain
If you think you have any of the symptoms we’ve covered or just are anxious (who wouldn’t be after reading this – I’m sorry, but its important to keep educated on risks and general health), make sure to book an appointment with your doctor. A doctor’s job isn’t just to diagnose, but also to reassure you.
This blog is written by friend of Neat, Dr Nick Ambatzis MB BS, MSc (SEM), MRCGP.
Nick is a General Practitioner specialising in Sports and Exercise Medicine. He completed his medical degree at University College London Medical School in 2002. Nick worked for almost ten years as a junior surgeon and spent three years in Trauma & Orthopaedics. He attained a Masters in Sports and Exercise Medicine and subsequently trained as a GP practising in Paddington.
From an early age, Nick has been both a keen cross-country runner and water-polo player, having competed at college level. Nick is also an accomplished ultra-marathon runner, having competed in many cross-country and cross-alpine races, ranging from 50-100 miles. He has also been a Crossfit and Crossfit Endurance coach.