There is welcome news for Ovarian Cancer Patients
Ovarian cancer develops when abnormal cells in the ovary begin to grow and divide in an uncontrolled way, and eventually form a growth. If the disease is not caught early enough the cancer cells gradually grow and spread to other areas of the body.
The problem with this particular type of cancer is that most cases are diagnosed too late when the options for treatment are reduced. From a personal perspective I have witnessed my own sister suffer the impact of a misdiagnosis before being advised her life expectancy was weeks not months from the moment the cancer was detected. As you can imagine this was devastating for all concerned.
It was with particular interest to read last week of a new drug, Olaparib, which has been approved, following successful trials in the UK. The medication has been developed to delay the advancement of the disease with the aim to extend the life of the patient by 3 years and give a much higher chance of survival.
Whilst it seems this drug will be a tremendous boost for progress in this field it is of great importance to raise awareness of some of the symptoms. Many signs are overlooked as they can appear or considered to be relatively minor. The symptoms of ovarian cancer can be confused with less serious conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or pre menstrual syndrome (PMS)
The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- feeling constantly bloated
- a swollen tummy
- feeling full quickly when eating
- loss of appetite
- discomfort in the stomach or pelvic area
- needing to urinate more often or more urgently than normal
- back pain
- feeling tired all the time
- unintentional weight loss
- Persistent indigestión or nausea
- Pain during sex
- Vaginal bleeding (particularly after the menopause)
- Change in bowel habits
Ovarian cancer mainly affects women who have been through the menopause usually over the age of 50, although it can affect women of a younger age. The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown but the risks are increased if you have a family history of either ovarian or breast cancer, have endometriosis, or are overweight or smoke. The earlier ovarian cancer can be diagnosed and treated, the better the chance of survival.
Olaparib was only available previously in the UK for those who had already had 3 rounds of chemotherapy but this is now about to change as these drugs can be taken once the patient has responded to the first chemotherapy session. It is hoped that Scotland and Wales will follow the UK in the use of Olaparib.
Sadly this has come too late for my sister and would have been too late for her even after diagnosis but the hope that survival rates will now increase should be of comfort for many as Ovarian Cancer has some of the lowest survival rate figures. Fantastic to know that there is hope out there and things can only get better.