Know the symptoms: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Published 12:00pm 2 February 2023

Know the symptoms: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Words by Ashleigh Howarth

In recognition of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, representatives from Cancer Council Queensland are asking all women to familiarise themselves with the symptoms and risk factors of the disease in a bid to help save more lives.

More than 300 women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Queensland this year, making it one of the leading causes of cancer deaths in Australian women.

Currently, the cause of ovarian cancer is unknown, however risk factors like age, genetic factors, family history, reproductive history, lifestyle and hormonal factors can increase the risk of a women being diagnosed.

It is so important women recognise the signs because there are no tests effective enough for a population-based screening program, and no proven way to prevent the disease.

Cancer Council Queensland Head of Service Delivery Gemma Lock says it is important for the community to observe the month and show their support to help find a cure.

“Each February marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. More than 300 Queensland women are expected to be diagnosed with the disease in 2023,” Gemma says.

“This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, with your support, we can continue to invest in research and support for those affected, including carers and families.”

There are ways you can help the Cancer Council and women who are currently undergoing treatment.

As part of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, you can purchase a teal ribbon for Teal Ribbon Day, held on Thursday, February 23.

You can also host a morning tea anytime in February or March with your friends or your workplace.

Know the symptoms: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Signs and symptoms

Ovarian cancer can happen at any age, but usually in women who have been through menopause.

In its early stages, ovarian cancer typically has few to no symptoms, and is generally diagnosed when the cancer is more advanced and has spread to other organs.

However, when symptoms of ovarian cancer do occur before the disease is diagnosed, they can include increased pressure, pain or discomfort in the abdomen or pelvis, changes in appetite such as feeling full or not feeling like eating, unexplained weight gain or loss, indigestion and feeling sick (nausea), changes in menstrual pattern, bleeding after menopause, pain during sex, or feeling very tired.

These symptoms do not necessarily result in a cancer diagnosis as they might be caused by another health condition.

If you have these symptoms and they are new for you, are severe or continue for more than a few weeks, it’s best to arrange a check-up.

Keep a record of how often the symptoms occur and make an appointment to see your general practitioner.

Breast and gynaecological cancer statistics in Queensland

Note: Gynaecological cancer refers to all cancers of the female reproductive tract (cancers of the cervix, ovaries, uterus, vagina and vulva).

  • One in six women will be diagnosed with a woman’s cancer by age of 85.
  • Every year around 5089 women will be diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancer.
  • Every year around 1086 women will die from breast or gynaecological cancer.
  • On average, 98 women are diagnosed with breast or gynaecological cancer every week.
  • On average, 21 women will die from breast or gynaecological cancer every week.

General statistics

  • One in two Queenslanders will be diagnosed with cancer by the age of 85.
  • Around 32,000 Queenslanders are diagnosed with cancer each year.
  • Around 9700 Queenslanders die from cancer each year.
  • On average, one Queenslander is diagnosed with cancer every 16 minutes.

Data provided by Cancer Council Queensland. Diagnosis and death statistics are calculated using 2019 data.

Find out more

For more information or support from Cancer Council Queensland, call 13 11 20 or visit https://cancerqld.org.au/

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