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8 May 2013

Coombe marks first annual World Ovarian Cancer Day

Today, Wednesday 8 May 2013 marks the first annual World Ovarian Cancer Day aimed at creating and raising awareness of the disease and its symptoms.

Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynaecological malignancy in the western world. It is diagnosed annually in nearly a quarter of a million women globally, and is responsible for 140,000 deaths each year. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years, compared to up to 89% of women with breast cancer.

World Ovarian Cancer Day is being promoted in Ireland by three Ovarian Cancer charities - Ovacare, Supporting Ovarian Cancer Knowledge (SOCK) and the Emer Casey Foundation, which provide nationwide support services for those affected by ovarian cancer as well as funding research with the DISCOVARY consortium led by the Coombe's Professor John O'Leary and Sharon O'Toole, senior scientist.

Often referred to as the 'silent killer', ovarian cancer has remained the most challenging of all the gynaecological cancers, and is characterised by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis. The majority of patients are identified in the advanced stages when the disease becomes more difficult to treat.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can often be confused with other conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders. If a woman experiences one or more of the following symptoms on most days within a three week period, she should discuss her concern with her doctor:

  • Increased abdominal size/persistent bloating (not bloating that comes and goes)
  • Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Needing to pass urine more urgently or more frequently

Women with ovarian cancer are most likely to have one or more of the above symptoms on a frequent basis. Other symptoms can occur including a change in bowel habit, abnormal vaginal bleeding, tiredness and unexpected weight loss or weight gain around the abdomen.

According to the Coombe's Sharon O'Toole, " Unlike cervical cancer, there is no reliable screening test. Although ovarian cancer can be a deadly disease, if it is diagnosed at the earliest stage, it can be treated effectively with surgery and chemotherapy, leading to survival rates of 90%. That means that women and GPs need to be on the lookout for early signs and symptoms".

According to the latest report from the National Cancer Registry, an average of 376 new cases present in Ireland each year. In terms of incidence rates, Ireland ranked 4th highest of 30 countries surveyed between 1994 and 2010 and had the highest mortality rate in Europe. The National Cancer Control Programme is currently putting measures in place to address the poor outcomes in Ireland.

Coombe Women & Infants University Hospital
Cork St.
Dublin 8.

Tel: +353-1-408 5200
Fax: +353-1-453 6033

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