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CHO urges women to be ovarian cancer aware

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young is urging Queensland women to be aware of the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

Speaking during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (February), Dr Young said ovarian cancer had the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer so symptom awareness was crucial.

"The four key symptoms are abdominal or pelvic pain, increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating, the need to urinate often or urgently, or feeling full after eating a small amount," Dr Young said.

"During the early stages, symptoms are often very subtle so most women are unlikely to even consider that they may have ovarian cancer.

"The symptoms may be attributed to something else, such as irritable bowel syndrome or pre-menstrual syndrome.

"But with three out of four women diagnosed with ovarian cancer dying, I can’t stress enough that women should see a doctor if any of these symptoms persist over a four-week period and are unusual for them."

Ovarian cancer is a malignant tumour in one or both ovaries. There is no known cause, but there are several factors thought to increase the risk of having the condition such as smoking tobacco and being overweight.

"Ovarian cancer can affect women of all ages, however the incidence increases with age and is most common in women who have experienced menopause," Dr Young said.

A key focus of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is to educate Australians on the symptoms of the disease to increase the chances of survival.

"Some women mistakenly believe that ovarian cancer can be detected by having a pap smear. This is not the case, which is why it is vitally important that women are symptom aware and discuss any concerns they may have with their health care provider," Dr Young said.

Last updated: 9 February 2015