Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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“Stage 4 ovarian cancer is not a death sentence” – Dr. Samir Fasih (Consultant Medical Oncologist, SKMCH&RC)

The American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) acknowledges September as the Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. On this occasion, Dr. Samir Fasih, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital and Research Centre (SKMCH&RC), Lahore spoke to The News and said, “Ovarian cancer ranks as the second commonest cancer seen in women at SKMCH&RC after breast cancer. Early diagnosis is the ideal situation but unfortunately, ovarian cancer is difficult to screen and it is often diagnosed late, leading to poor prognosis. However, it is important to know that not all stage IV cancers automatically mean a death sentence. Ovarian cancer can be managed even in late stages with surgery and chemotherapy so doctors should not abandon treatment for such patients. At Shaukat Khanum Hospitals, we have the latest diagnosis and treatment facilities available to treat ovarian cancer. Each new patient is evaluated by a multi-disciplinary team of doctors and a comprehensive treatment plan is devised for optimal patient outcome.”

Talking about risk factors, Dr. Fasih informed that family history of breast and ovarian cancers could mean that you might have inherited gene mutations in BRCA 1 and BRCA 2, which can increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer. In such a situation, your doctor can advise an appropriate strategy to reduce your risk with removal of ovaries or monitoring with ultrasound or blood tests.

According to the Global Cancer Observatory, there were more than 4,000 new cases of ovarian cancer in Pakistan in 2020 and nearly 3,000 deaths from this type of cancer. Dr. Fasih added, “We need to raise awareness about the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer for general physicians as well as for patients to promote early diagnosis. Some common symptoms are a feeling of being constantly bloated, swollen tummy, feeling full quickly after eating and frequent urination. Patients should seek medical advice in case of these symptoms and doctors should not rule out ovarian cancer before further investigation.”