Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month - February 2016
One women dies of ovarian cancer every 48 hours in New Zealand, yet most women don’t even know what the symptoms are.
The New Zealand Gynaecological Cancer Foundation (NZGCF) is urging women to become aware and educated about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer; one of five gynaecological cancers which also include cervical, endometrial, vulval and vaginal.
Ovarian cancer is the biggest killer among gynaecological cancers and the fourth leading cause of cancer-related deaths in New Zealand.
Gynaecological cancers are internationally symbolised by the colour teal, and NZGCF is asking people to ‘Turn it Teal’ by hosting their own event at work or home during February to help raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Fundraising events are planned throughout the month and a brochure has been produced for medical centres and family planning clinics around the country.
NZGCF Ambassadors TV veteran Peter Williams and businesswoman Sharon Hunter are passionate about increasing awareness of ovarian cancer and will be speaking at events in February about their personal connections to the foundation.
NZGCF General Manager Bridgette Jackson says the foundation is focused on informing and educating communities about not only ovarian cancer, but all gynaecological cancers to give women the courage to speak to their doctor and prompt early detection. “A major issue is that the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may be attributed to less serious causes, so it’s really important for women to visit their doctor if they notice anything out of the ordinary which persists for more than two weeks,” she says.
Dr Ai Ling Tan, Gynaecological Oncologist and NZGCF board trustee, adds; “there’s no screening programme for ovarian cancer, so it’s crucial to know about the signs and symptoms with early detection greatly increasing the chances of saving lives”. “We encourage women to use the BEAT acronym to personally detect symptoms early, as well as other symptoms including a change in bowel habits, increased urgency or frequency of urination, and fatigue.
B is for bloating that is persistent and doesn’t come and go
E is for eating less and feeling fuller
A is for abdominal pain
T is for telling your GP
The team at NZGCF urge women to Learn – the early warning signs of ovarian cancer, Listen – to your body you know best what is normal for you andAct – see your doctor early.