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Early Detection Saves Lives

One in 72 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in her lifetime. It affects mothers, daughters, sisters and friends. With early detection about 94% will survive longer than 5 years after diagnosis. Currently, only 20% of ovarian cancer is caught early. Estimates for ovarian cancer in the United States for 2014: about 21,980 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and about 14,270 deaths will occur.  It ranks fifth as the cause of cancer deaths in women, and accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.  (Source: American Cancer Society)

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

There is no screening method for early detection for ovarian cancer. Pap smears test only for cervical cancer.  The symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague and often overlooked, leading to later detection:

  • Abdominal swelling or bloating, increased girth
  • Persistent pressure or pain in the abdomen or pelvis
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary concerns, such as urgency or frequency
  • Change in bowel habits with new onset constipation and/or diarrhea
  • Unexplained vaginal bleeding

Any woman may have these symptoms for reasons not related to ovarian cancer.  However, if these symptoms are new and unusual and persist daily for more than two weeks, a woman should see her doctor, preferably a gynecologist, and should ask about ovarian cancer.  A transvaginal ultrasound and CA125 blood test may be necessary.  If ovarian cancer is suspected, see a gynecologic oncologist immediately.  (Source:   Ovarian Cancer Research Fund)

95% of patients with ovarian cancer report symptoms, most commonly:

  • abdominal (77%)
  • gastrointestinal (70%)
  • pain (58%)
  • constitutional (50%)
  • urinary (34%)
  • pelvic (26%)

Symptoms of ovarian cancer can occur in the abdomen even though the ovaries are in the pelvis.  Do not ignore persistent and unexplained abdominal symptoms.  Ask your practitioner to perform a pelvic/rectal exam at a minimum or refer you to someone who can.  Ask your practitioner about current status of blood marker and transvaginal ultrasound for detection of ovarian cancer.

Awareness Saves Lives:  Be Out Loud.  Click here to learn more about ovarian cancer.

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