Ovarian cancer: Common myths debunked by expert
Ovarian cancer though not a very common type of cancer can cause more deaths than any other female reproductive cancers. Here are some common myths about ovarian cancer busted by an expert.
Ovarian cancer though not a very common type of cancer can cause more deaths than any other female reproductive cancers such as cervical, uterine, vaginal, vulvar cancer, or the very rare fallopian tube cancer.
Ovarian cancer refers to any cancerous growth that begins in the ovary. Women aged 60 years and above, overweight women, ones who plan pregnancy after age 35 or have a family history of ovarian cancer are more at risk of getting it than the rest.
The early symptoms associated with ovarian cancer are vague and non-specific and hence are often ignored. The usual symptoms are feeling of heaviness in lower abdomen, feeling too full too soon on eating, bloating, weight loss, discomfort in the pelvic area, back pain, fatigue, constipation and frequent urination.
"It is essential to catch it early and ensure successful treatment. The lack of awareness can confuse and lead to fear in women. There will be many doubts in their mind and women would be embarrassed to speak about it. Thus, clearing misconceptions can make all the difference in detecting and surviving the disease," says Dr Padma Srivastava, Consultant Obstetrician & Gynaecologist, Motherhood Hospitals, Lullanagar, Pune.
Here are some common myths around ovarian cancer that a lot of people believe in, but are not necessarily true, busted by Dr Srivastava.
Myth 1: There are no risk factors when it comes to ovarian cancer
Fact: This statement is completely false. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer are at a higher risk of suffering from it. So, you need to keep a track of your family history and go for regular health check-ups.
Myth 2: A young woman cannot suffer from ovarian cancer
Fact: Anyone irrespective of age can suffer from this cancer. Now, even younger women in the age group of 30-40 may also get it.
Myth 3: Pap smears help to detect ovarian cancer
Fact: A Pap smear is not an ideal test for detecting ovarian cancer. Pap smears will help an expert to detect cervical cancer, and not all gynecological cancers. You will be shocked to know that there is no test to detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages. A majority of women are diagnosed at a later stage when cancer spreads to nearby tissues and organs.
Myth 4: Women with ovarian cancer will not exhibit any symptoms at an early stage
Fact: The symptoms of this cancer are pretty commonly seen in women. One may have gastrointestinal distress or even menstrual problems which can be misdiagnosed. Do not ignore symptoms such as bloating, sudden changes in bowel or urine habits, pelvic or abdominal pain or pressure, pain during sex, rapid weight loss for no reason, or indigestion. Get yourself checked for ovarian cancer as these signs can be alarming.
Myth 5: It is impossible to treat ovarian cancer. Suffering from this cancer is just like a death sentence.
Fact: There are some women who just get bogged down and give up on hearing that they have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. But, remember that it is possible to treat this cancer in an advanced stage, and women can lead a healthy life after that. Don't lose hope and seek timely treatment.
Myth #6: It is impossible to prevent ovarian cancer
Fact: You can keep ovarian cancer at bay with the help of a well-balanced lifestyle. Eat fresh fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, and legumes. Avoid junk, oily, and processed foods. Maintain an optimum weight, exercise daily, and check your vitamin D levels from time to time.