Between jobs, kids, household chores, pets, and daily activities, most wives tend to be so busy taking care of everyone else’s needs that they forget about taking care of their own. That’s why it’s important for family to pay close attention and watch for warning signs that could indicate a serious (but often overlooked) health problem — the so-called “silent killer” known as ovarian cancer.
The Silent Killer in Cancer
Ovarian cancer is currently ranked as the fifth deadliest cancer in women, accounting for 13,940 deaths in the U.S. this year. This type of cancer begins in a woman’s ovaries — the reproductive glands found only in females — but can spread throughout her other reproductive organs and body as it progresses.
Today, approximately 85 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at later stages, leaving survival rates somewhere between 15 and 30 percent. These delayed diagnoses are due in large part to symptoms being overlooked or confused with other health issues, which is why the disease is commonly referred to as “The Silent Killer.” However, if ovarian cancer is caught in an early stage, it’s highly curable, with survival rates at about 90 percent.
Recognizing the symptoms of ovarian cancer is often the first step to early detection. Here are six symptoms to watch for that could indicate a larger problem:
- If she becomes easily fatigued
- If she complains of bloating/abdominal swelling
- If she feels full quickly while eating or loses her appetite
- If she suffers from back/pelvic pain or pressure
- If she suddenly loses weight
- If she experiences changes in bowel and urination habits
Investing in Your Wife’s Well-Being
If the onset of these symptoms is recent (or they occur 10 or more times a month), your wife should seek medical attention immediately. Aside from watching for those specific symptoms, here are three ways you can advocate for her health:
1. Understand her family history. If your wife has any family history of ovarian, breast, colon, or uterine cancer, she’s already at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Talk to her about looking into genetic testing or counseling to help her better understand her health risk and preventative options.
2. Be direct but supportive. If you notice any red flags, immediately speak to your wife about your concerns. Explain what you’ve observed and suggest she make an appointment with her gynecologist. If she seems reluctant, offer to accompany her. You can even suggest that you both make appointments to get full health evaluations.
3. Ensure she’s getting full, proper care. If you or your wife is concerned about ovarian cancer, skip the consultation with her primary care physician and go straight to a gynecologist — he or she will have more specialized training in recognizing and treating ovarian cancer. At the appointment, make sure someone directly inquires about the possibility of ovarian cancer being the cause of her symptoms.
Your wife is undoubtedly a busy woman who’s probably used to putting her needs — and her health — last. But don’t let her ignore symptoms that could indicate a serious problem. Advocate for your wife by knowing the red flags of ovarian cancer and by speaking up if you suspect there’s a concern.