Lesbian and bisexual women are being urged to get checked as part of Ovarian Cancer Month.
One in 70 women will develop the cancer. Every year in Australia around 1500 women are diagnosed with the illness with more than 850 cases resulting in death.

But there’s hope -” if it’s found in the early stages up to 95 percent of women will be alive and well after five years. But unfortunately most women are diagn-osed with the cancer in its advanced stages, so early detection is the key.

Every woman needs to know the symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer needs to be considered if a woman experiences one or more of the following symptoms more than 12 times in one month and therefore a GP needs to consider ovarian cancer as a possibility, patient programs officer for Ovarian Cancer Australia Michelle Wootton said.

If ovarian cancer is suspected there are a number of tests that can be performed to help the doctor decide whether symptoms are due to ovarian cancer or other causes.

None of these tests can be relied upon on their own so it is essential to have both a CA125 blood test and an ultrasound to give your doctor the clearest picture.

Until there is a test, awareness is best as it’s difficult to diagnose ovarian cancer -” the symptoms are ones many women have from time to time. These include abdominal pain, increased abdominal bloating, needing to urinate often and feeling full or having difficulty eating.

Ovarian Cancer Australia also recommends if you’re experiencing a change in your bowel habits, vaginal bleeding, back pain, indigestion, nausea or excessive fatigue you should see your GP for a check-up.

Lesbians are not at any more risk than the general population or considered a high-risk group, however, it is true that resting the ovaries from ovulation provides a protective factor from ovarian cancer (such as taking the pill, pregnancy -” especially multiple pregnancies and breastfeeding), she said.

Many women believe that the Pap smear covers them for all gynecological cancers when this is not the case. There is currently no early detection test for ovarian cancer. A woman’s best defence is to be aware of the symptoms and to see her GP if she has concerns.

info: For more details on the disease go to www.ovariancancer.net.au.

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