It's time for something a little serious. March is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (OCAM). An important campaign to help build awareness for the signs associated with ovarian cancer. I have created a Just Giving page for The Eve Appeal, a Gynaecology Cancer Research Fund, in aid of the Make Time for Tea campaign. Taste the Tea has contacted members of the tea industry in the hope that collectively we can raise funds for this cause. Thank you to the Wan Ling Tea House and Bloom Tea for making the first donations!
Research in the UK identified that only 3% of women are confident in recognising a symptom of ovarian cancer, so let's smart up girlies. Symptoms are usually persistent, occurring more than 12 times a month. Look out for:
- Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes).
- Difficulty eating/feeling full.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain.
- Needing to wee more urgently or more often.
- Other symptoms can include; unexpected weight loss, change in bowel habits, and extreme fatigue.
Frequency: Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cause of cancer death in women and the biggest gynecological killer for women in the UK.
Diagnosis: Over 7,000 women are diagnosed every year. That's 134 cases a week.
Outcome: Delays in diagnosis are common and of those that are diagnosed, approximately 4,200 of will lose their battle with the disease, making the survival rate 46%. This figure is among the worst in Europe and if survival rates matched the best survival rates in Europe, 500 lives would be saved every year.
Importance: Most diagnoses occur after the cancer has spread making treatment challenging. If diagnosed during the earliest stage, up to 90% of women would survive five+ years.
There are two risk factors surrounding the likelihood of developing ovarian cancer:
- Risks increase with age, particularly after the menopause. Roughly 8/10 cases occur in women who have gone through the menopause.
- Around 1/10 cases show a family link can be identified.
A smear test will detect ovarian cancer.
FALSE - A cervical smear is designed to detect pre-cancerous changes to the cervix, but does not detect ovarian cancer.
Sexual activity affects the chance of developing ovarian cancer.
FALSE - The spread of the HPV virus, which can lead to cervical cancer, is associated with sexual activity, but is not connected in any way to ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is a ‘silent killer’
FALSE - Many believe symptoms only appear during late stages of the disease. However, there is now clear evidence that most women who are diagnosed with early stage disease do experience symptoms. The term ‘silent killer' merely reinforces perceptions that symptoms of ovarian cancer can’t be spotted until later stages. In order to increase early diagnosis, thus save lives, this perception need to change.
You can also get involved and help advance the medical research conducted by the Eve Appeal by pouring tea, baking cakes and enjoying the company of friends and family. Just check out the Eve Appeal for more information.