KOCHI: In Kerala, doctors are worried that a lack of awareness about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer may make a large number of women vulnerable to the disease. They emphasise that better awareness about symptoms and family history can help early diagnosis and promote faster and assured recovery.
According to data from 2016, cancer incidence in Kerala - including that of ovarian cancer - was higher than the national average. The cancer incidence rate in India was 106.6 per one lakh population while in Kerala, it was 135.3 per one lakh population.
“Ovarian cancer is known as a ‘silent killer’ but it has a high recovery rate if diagnosed in the early stages. But due to poor awareness and lack of symptoms in the early stages of the disease, most cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage, where the recovery rate drops to 40 to 50 per cent. Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of cancer death from gynaecological tumours in the developed world, and the numbers are increasing here as well. Apart from genetic reasons, common risk factors for ovarian cancer include being overweight/obese, not having a child, early onset of menstruation, smoking, and alcohol consumption. About 75 per cent of cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage. This hampers the treatment and quality of life of the patient,” said Dr Annu Susan George, Consultant Medical Oncologist, Lakeshore Hospital and Research Centre, Kochi.
- Early diagnosis places chances of recovery at 70 - 80 per cent while at an advanced stage, the recovery rate drops to 40 - 50 per cent.
- Since early-stage ovarian cancer usually has no symptoms, about 75 per cent of cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage.
- The risk of developing ovarian cancer is higher in women with a first-degree (immediate) family member affected.
- In 2016, Kerala had the highest incidence rate for ovarian cancer in the country