So we all hear about Breast Cancer Awareness Campaigns, they’re everywhere. Yet, little do we hear about Ovarian Cancer. We all know that the pink color is associated with Breast Cancer, but the color associated with Ovarian Cancer is not so popular.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, and teal is the color!
Despite the fact that we hear so little about it, around 22,240 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. It was also estimated that, ovarian cancer will kill 14,230 women this year in the United States, and if detected early 12,807 could survive. The problem is many women don’t seek help until the disease has begun to spread; and its symptoms are confused with other diseases.
Signs and Symptoms: Symptoms of ovarian cancer are difficult to diagnose. When I was experiencing the symptoms, I thought I was gaining weight!!!! So, based on research, the 4 symptoms are, 1) bloating, 2) pelvic or abdominal pain, 3) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and 4) changes in bathroom habits. If your symptoms last more than 2-3 weeks, visit your doctor right away.
Diagnosis: The following tests are usually asked by your doctor: physical examination, pelvic examination, blood test (for tumor markers), ultrasound, CT Scan and biopsy. Based on the results, your doctor will determine whether a surgery is needed. The surgeon can determine the stage of the cancer (see below) and the biopsy determines the grade of the cancer.
Stages: There are 4 stages of ovarian cancer and treatment is not the same for the different stages.
Stage I: The cancer is completely contained within the ovary or ovaries
Stage II: The cancer is in one or both of the ovaries and has spread to additional organs located in the pelvis (e.g., the bladder, colon, rectum, uterus)
Stage III: The cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to one or both of the following: the lining of the abdomen or the lymph nodes
Stage IV: The cancer has spread from one or both ovaries to additional organs such as the liver or lungs, or there may be cancer cells in the fluid surrounding the lungs. This is the most advanced stage.
Risk Factors: All woman, irrespective of their race and age, are at risk of developing ovarian cancer. Yet, research has shown that women with certain risk factors may have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer. These risk factors include, 1) family history of breast or ovarian cancer, 2) personal history of cancer, 3) women over the age of 55, 4) women who were never pregnant, and 5) women on menopausal hormone replacement therapy.
Is it hereditary? Studies have shown that women who have a mother, daughter, or sister with ovarian cancer are at a higher risk. Women with a family history of breast cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer or rectal cancer may also have increased risk.
Share the signs with the people you know and raise awareness!
HOPE. FAITH. COURAGE.
*Information obtained from www.ovariancancerawareness.org