Causes of ovarian cancer
Though it barely registers as a blip on the health radar of most women, worldwide, ovarian cancer is the second most common gynaecological cancer. In Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day on average. This so-called ‘silent’ disease occurs due to abnormal cell growth in one or both ovaries. These small almond-shaped organs on either side of your pelvis are attached to the fallopian tubes and produce eggs and the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, which regulate your menstrual cycle.
“The most common type of ovarian cancer grows from the cells on the outside of the ovary (and so it’s name epithelial, referring to the cells in the surface layer). The less common types arise from the cells which produce eggs or from tissues on the inside of the ovary, ” explains Professor Sanchia Aranda from Cancer Council Australia.
When tumours grow, the symptoms that usually emerge are often seen as gastrointestinal issues because the tumour is pressing on those organs. So for women who experience things like bloating or an urge to pee frequently when they are premenstrual or menopausal, it can be difficult to differentiate between such discomfort and what may be early warning signs. Even doctors may be slow to recognise the signs because they are so nondescript. According to research by Ovarian Cancer Australia, 49 per cent of women with ovarian cancer see their GP to discuss symptoms at least twice before being referred for further tests, while 21 per cent see their doctor for