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Ovarian cancer the leading cause of death from all gynecologic cancers and the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the United States. According to the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, a woman’s lifetime risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 72. A woman’s lifetime risk of dying from invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 100.
[sws_pullquote_right]Take advantage of the information out there, learn the symptoms, know your risk and then help the women in your life learn theirs, too. [/sws_pullquote_right]
While these statistics are alarming, what makes ovarian cancer truly dangerous is the fact that there is no screening test for ovarian cancer. A Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer, which is a common misperception. The best tool for early detection of ovarian cancer is awareness of symptoms. Historically, ovarian cancer has been called “the silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the disease had progressed too far for curative treatment. What has since been discovered is that symptoms are there in the early stages, but they are vague and hard to notice unless you know what to look for.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Women should talk to their physician if they notice any of these symptoms or if they experience sudden weight gain, tiredness all the time, upset stomach, heartburn, back pain, pain during sex, constipation or unusual vaginal bleeding.
As with all cancers, early detection increases survival rate so being aware of these symptoms and listening to your body is vital for all women regardless of risk factors. Risk factors include genetic predisposition, personal or family history of certain cancers, aging, having never been pregnant, long-term hormone replacement therapy and obesity; and although it’s important to understand your personal risk factors, it’s also important to understand that all women have a risk for developing ovarian cancer.
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Many organizations are reaching out to educate women about the symptoms and risk of ovarian cancer. Take advantage of the information out there, learn the symptoms, know your risk and then help the women in your life learn theirs, too.
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