any debate there may be about making ultrasound scans available to all
women over 50 years of age. My wife died of ovarian cancer 31 weeks ago:
she was 55 years old.
For 4 months, until 10 days before she died the doctor's diagnosis had been
irritable bowel syndrome. At the hospital, the doctors discovered
the cancer using an ultrasound scan. They said that the tumour
would have been inside her for two years or more, growing all the
time. Ovarian cancer kills silently. Many of my wife's friends had
thought that it could be detected by a regular cervical smear test:
it can't. It doesn't show up on x-ray images either.
The best bet would have been an ultrasound scan taken earlier - but
such scans aren't available electively on the NHS.
As it grew, the tumour blocked her bowel; it slowly made it
impossible for her to eat without later feeling bloated;
In the last six weeks of her life, for two or three days each
week she became confined to bed - too weak to move.
The tumour affected her bladder: five days before she died,
the doctors were still testing to ensure that the problem
was ovarian rather than bladder cancer. She had blood in her
urine. The growth also put pressure on a ureter so that her
salts level were wrong. This caused her to become confused
rapidly in the two days leading to her death.
I, our son and her brother had to watch her deterioration and
suffering. I don't understand why this type of cancer is so
misunderstood by its most likely victims. I now know that
several of Joan's friends who have died recently also died of
ovarian cancer - with different symptoms. By the time it is
discovered, the 5 year survival prospects are only 25%
after surgery. Why isn't there more publicity about such a deadly
cancer? Why aren't ALL women over 50 years old offered free elective
scanning? Help me to understand.