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Women Don't Know Enough About Ovarian Cancer and the Cost Is Deadly

Illustration for article titled Women Dont Know Enough About Ovarian Cancer and the Cost Is Deadlyem/em
Image: Getty

A new report conducted by the nonprofit World Ovarian Cancer Coalition found that women diagnosed with ovarian cancer lack crucial knowledge about the disease.

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According to NPR, 1,531 women across 44 “high-, middle- and low income countries” filled out an online questionnaire and prior to their diagnoses, “two-thirds of the women surveyed either had never heard of ovarian cancer or were familiar with the name but didn’t know anything about the disease.” This is especially concerning considering that ovarian cancer is the eighth leading cancer in women and that an estimated 300,000 women worldwide will develop it this year.

The World Ovarian Cancer Coalition believes “one in six will die within three months of diagnosis and fewer than half will be alive in five years.”

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The issue exists everywhere—in the United States, the average time from first symptoms to ovarian cancer diagnosis is 36 weeks. In Germany, diagnosis is quick but access to specialists is dire. No country has a great system for identifying ovarian cancer, a largely preventable and in some cases, curable, disease. Italy appeared to lead the way with 62% of women getting diagnosed within one month. In one case, a woman in Brazil was only diagnosed because her doctor conducted a pelvic ultrasound which is not a “common practice” stateside. American women were also most likely to wait more than three months before consulting a doctor about their symptoms.

Ovarian cancer symptoms are slight, which could explain the ignorance surrounding the disease. They are: bloating, adnominal pain, difficulty eating and/or feeling full quickly, frequent urination, fatigue, constipation and back pain. The World Ovarian Cancer Coalition believes the first step towards a worldwide transformational change is awareness, so next time you’re at the gynecologist and you possess any of the aforementioned symptoms, don’t be afraid to ask. It could save your life.

Read the report in full here.

Senior Writer, Jezebel. My debut book, LARGER THAN LIFE: A History of Boy Bands, is out now.

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DISCUSSION

I was diagnosed with Stage 3 ovarian cancer in my twenties, and the only reason I was is that I went to the gynecologist for the first time (yes, I know; please, everyone, learn from my fail) and when she was doing the pelvic exam, she noticed my uterus seemed unusually large. I wound up having surgery, as they thought I had cysts or fibroids; nope.

In hindsight, I had every single one of the above symptoms and just assumed they were PMS related. Please, please, please don’t ever assume shit like that. Nobody wants to be the hypochondriac who comes in every week and the doctor rolls their eyes when they see their name on the appointment log, but you know what? It’s better than months of chemo and watching your father sob at your hospital bed.

Please be that pain in the ass. You know your body better than anyone. Speak up.