Saturday, September 1, 2012

Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month!

It is September, and that means it is time to go TEAL!  It is officially Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and the color of Ovarian Cancer Awareness is teal.  A fun and easy way to support this month is by painting your toes teal.  There are tons of teals out there in many different brands of polish, so finding one is easy!
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a disease in which malignant or cancerous cells are found in the ovaries. An ovary is one of two small, almond-shaped organs located on each side of the uterus that store eggs or germ cells and produce female hormones estrogen and progesterone.  There are more than 30 different types of ovarian cancer.
Genetic or hereditary causes of ovarian cancer account for only 10% of the estimated 23, 400 cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed each year in the United States. The cause or causes of the other 90% are not known.

Ovarian cancer is the 4th most common cause of cancer death among women in the U.S. Every female born in the United States has a risk of 1 in 55, or 1.8%, of developing ovarian cancer in her lifetime. The risk increases substantially for women with a family history of ovarian cancer. It is more common in women in their 50’s and 60’s, but often occurs in women with a family history before or during their early 40’s. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other type of gynecologic cancer and accounts for 5% of all cancer deaths among women. It is the 4th most common cause of cancer death among women in the U.S.
Pelvic exams, the CA125 blood test, and pelvic ultrasounds are three methods of diagnosing ovarian cancer in women with symptoms suggesting the disease. None of these tests is foolproof when used alone; when used together, however, they can be very helpful in diagnosing ovarian cancer in its earliest stages. In fact, CA125 levels are elevated in 50% of Stage 1 ovarian cancer patients.
The average survival for women with advance stage ovarian cancer in the last 15 years has gone from 1 year to over 3 years. It is true that among women followed from 5 and 10 years after treatment, the number that are actually cured of the disease is very small. However, it appears that some 8% to 15% of patients, even those with very advanced ovarian cancer, eventually will be cured of the disease.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, especially, in the early stages. This is partly due to the fact that these two small, almond shaped organs are deep within the abdominal cavity, one on each side of the uterus. These are some of the potential signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer:


Pelvic or abdominal pain

Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often

Other symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:


Upset stomach or heartburn

Back pain

Pain during sex

Constipation or menstrual changes

If symptoms persist for more than two weeks, see your physician.

Persistence of Symptoms

When the symptoms are persistent, when they do not resolve with normal interventions (like diet change, exercise, laxatives, rest) it is imperative for a woman to see her doctor. Persistence of symptoms is key. Because these signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer have been described as vague or silent, only around 19% of ovarian cancer is found in the early stages. Symptoms typically occur in advanced stages when tumor growth creates pressure on the bladder and rectum, and fluid begins to form.

Have a comprehensive family history taken by a physician knowledgeable in the risks associated with ovarian cancer. 5% to 10% of ovarian cancer has a familial link.

Every woman should undergo a regular rectal and vaginal pelvic examination. If an irregularity of the ovary is found, alternatives to evaluation include transvaginal sonography and/or tumor markers. The most common tumor marker is a blood test called the CA-125.