Ovarian cancer is a disease where cells in one or both ovaries start to grow abnormally and develop into cancer. The ovaries form part of a females reproductive system. They are two small, almond shaped organs that sit either side of the uterus.

The ovaries are responsible for producing germ cells that later develop to become an egg (ova). They are also responsible for creating the hormones oestrogen and progesterone, both needed for regulating the female menstrual cycle and developing female characteristics.

Unfortunately there is no early detection test for ovarian cancer so it is important for all women to be aware of potential signs and symptoms. These include having a consistently bloated or enlarged abdomen, abdomen or pelvic pain, increased urgency to urinate, and feeling full after only eating small amounts of food. Other symptoms include lower back pain, excessive fatigue, changes in bowel habits or irregular bleeding between menstrual cycles.Obviously these symptoms can relate to other medical conditions, however it is important to discuss symptoms with your Doctor and listen to your body.

Treatment for ovarian cancer is usually a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, however treatment is very individualised to the person. Surgery is often first to determine the type of cancer, the stage and grade of cancer and to remove as much of it as possible. Chemotherapy is anti-cancer drugs, aimed to slow down or destroy the growth of cancerous cells, however it can affect normal healthy cells also.

Exercising during and after cancer treatment is essential. Exercise is a vital part of a treatment plan as it helps to improve cancer related fatigue, improve a persons tolerance to aggressive forms of treatment, improves the immune system, improve bone mineral density that can be lost due to chemotherapy, and help reduce the likelihood of recurrence. Exercise also helps to reduce anxiety and depression by boosting the production of serotonin and endorphins.

It is important that you discuss exercise with your Oncologist and treating doctors to ensure it is appropriate, and whether any referrals need to be made to appropriate Physiotherapist and Exercise Physiologist.

Allied health treatment should be individualised to the patient to ensure effective and safe treatment is provided. It is also important to consider whether Medicare or your Private Health Fund can assist with your Allied Health care.

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