September is officially National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Despite its prevalence, there is quite a bit that the average woman may not know about ovarian cancer. For instance, there is no defined test for ovarian cancer and Pap tests cannot be used to detect the disease. There are symptoms associated with ovarian cancer, but they are often subtle and easy to miss. This is why so many cases of ovarian cancer go undiagnosed until they are in later stages, dramatically decreasing a woman’s chances of survival. It’s important for women to be aware of their ovarian cancer risk and take the necessary precautions.
For starters, consider these statistics. According to estimates from the American Cancer Society, over 22,000 women in the US will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year alone. Sadly, over 14,000 of these cases may be fatal. Older women are at a greater risk of developing the disease, as roughly 50% of new ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in women over the age of 63. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth among cancer deaths among women, making it the most deadly of all female gynecological cancers.
While they may only be mild in certain patients, there are still some trademark symptoms of ovarian cancer that women should be conscious of. They may include bloating in the abdomen or sudden weight gain, abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, and feeling the sudden need to urinate urgently or frequently. If you experience these symptoms for more than 2-3 weeks, we strongly urge you to visit your board-certified gynecologist as soon as possible.
The screening method for ovarian cancer may vary from woman to woman depending on her risk factors. For example, a routine testing of blood levels for the CA-125 protein and pelvic ultrasound, which can detect potential or existing tumor development, is generally recommended for women with a higher-risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women with a family history of ovarian cancer, those who are older, or menopausal women taking hormone replacement therapy may be considered high risk. Surgery is the most common treatment for most ovarian cancers. During surgery, the cancerous tumors, as well as the ovaries, uterus, fallopian tubes, and surrounding tissue may be removed depending on how far your cancer has spread and the state of your general health. After surgery, some patients may be recommended to undergo chemotherapy or radiation treatments to make sure any remaining traces of cancerous cells are destroyed.
Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is all about spreading knowledge to the special women in your life. After all, knowledge is power in the fight against reproductive cancer. For more information on ovarian cancer or to request an appointment with board-certified gynecologist Dr. Kristine Gould, please contact Gynecology Associates of Gwinnett today. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ for more tips, news, and updates on our upcoming Health and Wellness events.