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Opinion

The Signs Of Ovarian Cancer That We Should Never Ignore – Dr Bheena Vyshali

In conjunction with Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Dr Bheena Vyshali discloses several of the disease’s subtle signs and symptoms, which many women may not be aware of.

Dr Bheena Vyshali.

Ovarian cancer is recognised as the fourth leading cancer in Malaysia. Although it is more common in older women over 50, anybody can get ovarian cancer, and there are specific risk factors that can raise the likelihood of getting the disease, such as diabetes, being overweight, and smoking.

Despite significant advancements in treatment, most cases are currently diagnosed at a later stage, when the cancer has already spread to the abdomen or beyond as ovarian cancer does not show symptoms until it is well advanced. This lowers survival rates.

The ‘key symptom’ to watch out for is a swollen tummy or feeling bloated, pain or tenderness in your tummy and urine problems.

When it comes to bloating, this includes new onset bloating, feeling full quickly after eating, bloating that does not settle within a few weeks, and bloating that continues to persist with the usual treatments or dietary changes.

Additionally, it may be a warning sign if you discover that you are passing urine more frequently or have an urgent need to pass urine as the growing ovarian mass may be compressing your bladder

Also, watch out for a new pain in the pelvis, back, or lower abdomen that does not quickly settle.

Contact your doctor immediately if you feel any lump or swelling in your lower belly or pelvis. 

Constant dyspepsia, irregular vaginal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, persistent exhaustion, and changes in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhoea) are other signs to be aware of.

These symptoms can often be relatively subtle, and many are associated with other common conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome. This is what you can expect if you consult with a GP about any of these difficulties. 

The important thing is to be checked out if the symptoms are new to you, differ from your typical symptoms, or do not improve with your typical therapy.

Talk about your symptoms with a medical professional when you visit them. I would also advise regular screening which includes a pelvic ultrasound and cancer markers. 

This is especially important for women who have a higher risk or a family history of ovarian and breast cancer.

Ovarian cancer remains a continuous health challenge requiring early detection and treatment to improve outcome and life expectancy. 

Having a heightened awareness and regular screening are crucial for enhancing outcomes and reducing the impact of this often asymptomatic but serious condition.

Dr Bheena Vyshali is a consultant gynaecologist at Beacon Hospital.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Ova.

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