May 8 is World Ovarian Cancer day. When discussing women’s cancers, we often talk about breast cancer. However, ovarian cancer is a real and present threat, too. Let’s review five quick facts about this deadly disease, and what can be done to diagnose it sooner.
1. Ovarian cancer is rare, but still significant.
According to a Women’s Health article, “While ovarian cancer may be rare—the number is still significant. More than 22,000 women are diagnosed every year, and more than 14,000 women die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.”
2. Symptoms tend to be nonspecific and difficult to detect.
Because of this, patients are often diagnosed late. This causes a poor prognosis.
3. But there are some symptoms you should be aware of.
According to Womenshealth.gov, here are a list of symptoms of ovarian cancer:
- Pain in the pelvis or abdomen (belly)
- Bloating in the abdomen
- Urinary urgency (needing to pee right away)
- Urinary frequency (having to pee often)
- Constipation or diarrhea
- Feeling full quickly while eating
- Having difficulty eating
- Vaginal bleeding or other discharge that is different than normal
- Back pain
4. Even after beating ovarian cancer, there’s a high chance it could reoccur.
Texas Oncology statistics show the recurrence rate is somewhere between 60 and 80 percent.
5. Doctors can test to see if you have a gene mutation linked to ovarian cancer.
Genetic testing isn’t an option for most women, as insurance often won’t cover it unless they’ve already tested positive for cancer. However, it’s possible to test for the BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations. These mutations are linked to ovarian cancer. A few years ago, Angelina Jolie did it, and shared with the world about her masectomy, including the removal of her fallopian tubes and ovaries.
Heritage has to do with the presence of these mutations, it seems. According to The Gale Encyclopedia of Senior Health, “White women and those of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish heritage have higher incidence and mortality rates than women in other ethnic groups.”
A cancer diagnosis is something no one wants to or should have to receive. Remember to do your monthly breast exam, remind your partners and friends to do the same for their breasts and testicles, and keep aware of any strange symptoms for quieter cancers, like ovarian cancer. Be sure to talk to your doctor if you have any concerns.