Gayleen Mahood is one of the 1500 Australian women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.
Following an ultrasound to investigate persistent lower back pain, she received the devastating news she had a cancer with a 46 per cent five-year survival rate.
Mrs Mahood was quickly referred to Royal Darwin Hospital Gynaecological Oncologist Dr Michelle Harris and two weeks later she had surgery to remove the cancer.
Chemotherapy at the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre followed and she is now in remission, but she says she was lucky.
"I felt disappointed that I had ovarian cancer, but lucky that it was discovered early," Mrs Mahood said.
"I am feeling better and look forward to getting back to gardening. I wish to thank Dr Harris and all the staff at Royal Darwin Hospital and the AWCCC who have been wonderful."
In Australia, four women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every day, and one woman dies every ten hours from the disease.
February is ovarian cancer awareness month, and Dr Harris said now is the time to learn more about risk-reduction, diagnosis, and treatment of the second most common gynaecological cancer.
Symptoms of the cancer can be vague, leaving the disease easily undetected.
According to Dr Harris, ovarian cancer is a general term used to describe a malignant tumour which involves one or both ovaries, although many of these cancers are now understood to have their origin in the Fallopian tubes.
"It can be a devastating diagnosis for a woman and her family," Dr Harris said.
"However, there has been an increase in five-year survival from 32 per cent in the 1980s and this is attributed to improvement in specialised cancer care services, including surgery, chemotherapy and coordination of treatment pathways.
"Each year in Australia around 1,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancers are not all the same, but in the majority of cases the cancer will be diagnosed at an advanced stage, where treatment is more challenging."
Unlike breast cancer, cervical and bowel cancer, effective screening strategies for ovarian cancer, which diagnose the disease at an early or pre-cancerous stage, do not exist, Dr Harris said.
"It is important to discuss your risk, and appropriate management, with your doctor," she said.
"Risk factors for women getting ovarian cancer included age and family history of ovarian cancer, breast or colon cancer.
"In Australia the overall five-year survival rate for women diagnosed with ovarian cancer is 46 per cent, compared to breast cancer at 91 per cent."
Territorians affected by the disease can seek practical and emotional support by contacting the cancer care coordinators at Royal Darwin Hospital and the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre on (08) 8922 8888.
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