September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, helping spread awareness of the detection of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is among the deadliest of the cancers that affect women, affecting over 20,000 women who are diagnosed each year.
As of today, there are no screening tests that are adequate to detect ovarian cancer, which makes it more challenging to detect it in its earliest stages. Though there is research being done every day concerning this, for now it is essential that women understand the various signs that could mean that they have ovarian cancer. According to the World Health Organization, over 238,000 women are diagnosed yearly around the world, with over 150,000 dying each year from ovarian cancer. According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, about 14,000 U.S. women will die from ovarian cancer each year.
Getting out into the community and spreading awareness of the signs of ovarian cancer is the number one goal of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. The earlier a woman can be diagnosed, the better chance of survival and longevity of life. Many women that are diagnosed aren’t diagnosed until they’re in stage 3, which severely decreases the survival rate. Currently, only about 45% of women diagnosed in the later stages live longer than 5 years. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has a wonderful program called “Take Early Action and Live” (TEAL) that helps raise awareness about the symptoms, risk factors, and signs of ovarian cancer. Health professionals and volunteers will set up at festivals, health or community fairs, or do presentations at various organizations. Their goals are to continue to educate women about ovarian cancer, and distribute various resources that can assist them.
The importance of early detection When ovarian cancer is diagnosed in the earliest stages, the survival rate for 5 years is over 90%. Many women are not aware that the pap smear test does not detect ovarian cancer. However, there are certain tests that doctors can order that will give them a better idea of what’s going on. This includes a pelvic examination, a blood test called CA-125, an ultrasound, and a biopsy. It is also been found that women who have the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene are at an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer risk factors Though ovarian cancer can affect a woman at any age, there are certain risk factors associated with it. These include:
- Women who are older than 55 women
- Women who have received hormone replacement therapy for menopause
- Women who have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer
- Women who have had cancer themselves
- Women who have never been pregnant
Signs and symptoms associated with ovarian cancer There are certain cancer signs and symptoms for ovarian cancer, but it’s sometimes challenging to diagnose because these symptoms may also be a sign of other health issues.
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Feeling full very quickly
- More frequent urination or an urgency to urinate
- Back aches
- Shortness of breath
Should you be experiencing some of these symptoms, it’s always wise to make an appointment with your doctor. That’s not to say that you will have ovarian cancer, as you could have something going on with your digestive system, or another issue. But it’s best to be on the safe side and consult with a health care physician. Medical doctors continue to do ovarian cancer research every day, and clinical trials are being conducted regularly. Research will continue to study various ways to detect and treat ovarian cancer. Continue to educate yourself on the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and if you can, show your support by attending community events that raise money for cancer research and or cancer survivors.