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Elderly Australians urged to be on the lookout for ovarian cancer

February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. To mark the occasion, there will be a function at Parliament House on Wednesday 8 February 2017 attended by government figures, and on Wednesday 22 February 2017, Australians around the country will host an Afternoon Teal – because teal is the international colour of ovarian cancer.

Readers wanting to support Ovarian Cancer Australia can purchase a teal ribbon for $2 from Chemmart Pharmacies, Terry White Chemists and Chemplus stores Australia wide.

Jane Hill is calling on Australians to wear teal and support Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month on Wednesday 22 February 2017. Photo: OCA

Jane Hill is calling on Australians to wear teal and support Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month on Wednesday 22 February 2017. Photo: OCA

Aged Care Insite spoke to the chief executive of Ovarian Cancer Australia, Jane Hill, about these events and the current state of play with ovarian cancer. NR started by asking her to provide an overview of Ovarian Cancer Australia’s initiatives for the month ahead.

Ovarian cancer facts
(Furnished by Ovarian Cancer Australia and edited by AAP)

  • Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of any women’s cancer.
  • The overall five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer in Australia is 43 per cent.
  • Each day, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and three will die from the disease.
  • 75 per cent of women are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
  • If diagnosed early, women have an 80 per cent chance of being alive and well after five years.
  • There is no early detection test for ovarian cancer, so the best way of detecting the disease is to know and recognise the symptoms.
  • Common symptoms include:
    • Abdominal or pelvic pain.
    • Increased abdominal size or persistent abdominal bloating.
    • The need to urinate often or urgently.
    • Feeling full after eating a small amount.
  • Genetics and family history are responsible for up to 20 per cent of ovarian cancer incidences.
  • This tends to be a result of an inherited faulty gene: BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
  • These mutations can increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer from 1 per cent in the general population to 59 per cent (BRCA1) and around 17 per cent (BRCA2).
  • Testing positive for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations does not mean that ovarian cancer will occur.
  • Ovarian cancer most commonly affects women over 50 who have been through menopause.
  • Risk factors women should be aware of include:
    • Being over 50 years of age.
    • Never having children, being unable to have children, or having children after 30.
    • Never having used oral contraceptives.
    • Having endometriosis.
    • Lifestyle factors: smoking tobacco, being overweight or eating a high fat diet.
    • Hormonal factors, including early puberty (menstruating before 12) or late menopause (onset after 50 years of age).
  • Latest research shows ovarian cancer is not just one disease but a collection of diseases with different characteristics, behaviours and molecular structures.

And this is what an Afternoon Teal looks like (Photos: OCA):

2016 Bendigo Afternoon Teal.

2016 Bendigo Afternoon Teal.

Macaroons, merangue and bikkies at an Adelaide event.

Macaroons, meringue and bickies at an Adelaide event.

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