September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Let’s discuss a subject that may not get talked about enough—ovarian cancer. Why doesn’t it get more attention? Maybe because it’s so rare. Perhaps because the symptoms are subtle. Or, it could be because it’s usually undetected until it’s reached an advanced stage. Regardless of the reason, women need to start talking about and taking control of their health. In an effort to make ovarian cancer obsolete, September is recognized as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The goal is to get people talking about and testing for ovarian cancer, and that begins by raising awareness. Start by spreading the word about ovarian cancer to prevent it from spreading further. Begin by taking a closer look at the types of ovarian cancer and the main ovarian cancer symptoms, as well as how ovarian cancer testing is the secret to survival. Let’s get the word out to women everywhere.
The spread of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is very rare—affecting only about 1.3% of women at some point in their lives—but it’s still far too common for the women and families who face it and fight it each day. Ovarian cancer involves much more than the ovaries. In fact, ovarian cancer is actually a group of diseases that affects the ovaries and fallopian tubes, along with the tissue lining the abdominal wall known as the primary peritoneum. Combined, some form of ovarian cancer will affect 20,000 women in the United States this year alone.
Common kinds of an uncommon cancer
There are three primary types of ovarian cancer. Each of the types of ovarian cancer is named for the cells where it starts. The types include:
- Epithelial ovarian carcinomas – Making up nearly 90% of all ovarian cancer cases, these tumors originate in the cells covering the outer surface of the ovary. The ovarian cancer survival rate with this type of cancer is very high.
- Germ cell tumors – Forming from the cells that produce the eggs, less than 2% of ovarian cancer cases are germ cell tumors. Fortunately, these patients have a very high ovarian cancer survival rate.
- Stromal cell tumors – Beginning in the hormone-producing cells, only around 1% of all ovarian cancer cases are stromal cell tumors, with most found in women over age 50. Since these are often found at an early stage, these have a 75% ovarian cancer survival rate.
Ovarian cancer symptoms
Even though people may be silent about the disease, the symptoms luckily aren’t. However, they’re rather subtle and often mistaken for other harmless conditions. As a result, the signs are frequently ignored or thought to be the typical signs of aging. No wonder ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it’s advanced to a later stage. If you experience any of the following ovarian cancer symptoms, visit with your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor as quickly as possible and consider ovarian cancer testing. The most common ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Unexplained bloating
- Feeling full quickly after eating
- Pressure or pain around the pelvis
- Abnormal pain
- Lack of appetite or difficulty eating
- Sudden weight loss or weight gain
- Changes in bathroom habits
Treating and beating ovarian cancer
With ovarian cancer, testing is the key to detection. According to the American Cancer Association, there is a 94% ovarian cancer survival rate when it’s detected and treated in the earliest stages—yet only 20% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed early on. This is why it’s vital to take even the slightest symptom seriously and schedule ovarian cancer testing right away. These most common tests include a pelvic exam, an ultrasound, and a blood test. If you’re diagnosed with ovarian cancer, there are several effective options for treatment. Rest assured that your SignatureMD-affiliated doctor will help you find the treatment that’s right for you. Sometimes, a combination of treatments is recommended. The main treatment is usually surgery to remove the ovary and surrounding tissue affected by cancer. Sometimes, women choose to remove both ovaries, the uterus, and the fallopian tubes as a preventative measure to reduce the risk of recurrence. The other primary treatment is chemotherapy, which uses targeted medicines to shrink or kill cancer cells.
The prognosis for prevention
During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, spreading the word about prevention is a priority. Fortunately, studies have shown that certain factors can help reduce your risk for developing ovarian cancer, such as:
- Taking birth control pills
- Having a hysterectomy with the ovaries and fallopian tubes removed
- Getting tested for the BRCA gene, which indicates a high risk of ovarian cancer
During Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, start talking about ovarian cancer to spread the word to women everywhere and save the lives of the ladies you love.