OK, ladies. Serious talk: ovarian cancer awareness month (September) is quickly winding to a close. Ovarian cancer is almost completely curable if caught during its early stages (if caught in its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 93 percent!). But ovarian cancer can be tricky – it doesn’t have many symptoms. Read on to learn how to prevent and combat the disease.
What is ovarian cancer?
“Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. Women have two ovaries, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries -- each about the size of an almond -- produce eggs (ova) as well as the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone.” via the Mayo Clinic
According to ovariancancerawareness.org, each year, 22,880 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer symptoms are difficult to detect because they feel similar to other common conditions, such as digestive and bladder problems. Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Abdominal pressure
- Swelling or bloating
- Pelvic discomfort or pain
- Persistent indigestion
- Gas or nausea
- Changes in bowel habits and bladder habits
- Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
- Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around waist
- Persistent lack of energy
- Low back pain
Causes of ovarian cancer are unclear, but risk factors include:
- Inherited gene mutations
- Family history of ovarian cancer
- Previous cancer diagnosis
- Older age
- Never having been pregnant
- Hormone replacement therapy
Take the following simple precautions to increase the chance of early, ovarian cancer detection:
- Give a thorough medical history to your gynecologist.
- Disclose any personal and family history of breast, endometrial, or colon cancer, as well as any use of fertility drugs (these may put you at higher risk).
- Have an annual pelvic exam and routine sonograms.
- Know the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Information via Dr. Weil
Image: Tetra Pak