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Why Ovarian Cancer Is Called the Silent Killer

By HERWriter
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Ovarian Cancer: Why It's Called the Silent Killer Chinnapong/fotolia, Edited by Erin Kennedy

Ovarian cancer is more difficult to detect than other cancers. The most common symptoms are vague, and can easily be attributed to other conditions or simply female pelvic discomfort. This has earned ovarian cancer the nickname “the silent killer.”

For this reason, it is important to be vigilant and not brush off symptoms as something that will just go away.

One way to track those symptoms is using the BEAT mnemonic to help you remember what to look for. BEAT is a campaign by Ovacome, a UK ovarian cancer support network dedicated to helping women monitor for symptoms of ovarian cancer.

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 trouble with your bowels or bladder and tell your GP.

“A woman’s lifetime risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 75. A woman’s lifetime risk of dying from invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 100,” according to Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA).

The greatest number of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed between the ages of 55 and 64.

Unfortunately, ovarian cancer survival rates are lower than those of other cancers. “The relative five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 46 percent,” OCNA reports.

There are three main types of ovarian cancer. After surgery to remove the cancer, the stages of ovarian cancer are determined.

Epithelial tumors

These develop in the cells that cover the outside of the ovary. Most ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors and most are benign. However, of those epithelial tumors that are malignant, 85 to 90 percent are all ovarian carcinomas, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).

The problem is that “almost 70 percent of women with the common epithelial ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until the disease is advanced in stage,” the OCNA said.

Germ cell tumors

1) Beat Ovarian Cancer. Ovacome..the ovarian cancer support network. Retrieved Sept. 11, 2016.

2)  Symptoms and Detection of Ovarian Cancer.  Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Retrieved Sept. 11, 2016.

3) What is ovarian cancer?  American Cancer Society. Retrieved Sept. 11, 2016.

4) Types & Stages of Ovarian Cancer. Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. Retrieved Sept. 11, 2016.

5)  Jasen, Patricia. From the “Silent Killer” to the “Whispering Disease”: Ovarian Cancer and the Uses of Metaphor.   Med Hist. 2009 Oct; 53(4): 489–512.

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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