February 2020 is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Here, Dr Katelyn Lee from PRP Imaging busts some common misconceptions when it comes to ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is actually one of the more deadly female cancers, in large part because once a diagnosis is made the cancer is usually at an advanced stage, and with all cancers, early detection is key to the overall prognosis and survival rate.
While we generally don’t hear as much about ovarian cancer, in comparison to cancers such as breast and cervical, given its prevalence in Australia (affecting about 1,400 Aussie women annually), it’s definitely something that all Australian women should be aware of.
Watch: How to increase the survival rate of Ovarian Cancer and common symptoms. Post continues below.
1. Pap smears accurately screen for ovarian cancer.
False – There is currently no early detection for ovarian cancer. Pap smears test for abnormal cells which may be a sign of cervical cancer, which originates in the cervix, whereas ovarian cancer originates in the fallopian tubes or ovaries.
2. There are different types of ovarian cancer.
True – There are three main types of ovarian cancer – epithelial, germ cell and stromal tumours.
Epithelial is the most common form, which arises from the cells lining the ovary or fallopian tube. The two rarer types are germ cell tumours, which arise from cells that produce eggs, and stromal tumours, which arise from the supporting tissues within the ovary.
3. BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations can increase the chance for ovarian cancer.
True – While most people are familiar with the implications of a BRCA mutation for breast cancer, the mutations also notably increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
4. I haven’t had children, so I can’t get ovarian cancer.
False – It is argued that women who have never had children are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer – this is because the more eggs a woman produces, the higher the risk as there is more estrogen, however, during pregnancy a woman doesn’t have a period for nine months.
5. Endometriosis can increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer.