Ovarian Cancer: What You Need to Know
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Take the time to read the information below about ovarian cancer and also make sure that you are up to date on your annual GYN visit, which includes a survey of your cancer risk as well as a thorough exam.
Contact us immediately if you experience the below symptoms or someone in your family (mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, daughter) is diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer so that we can update your cancer risk and improve your surveilance.
Data shows that “ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic malignancy in the United States, and worldwide is the seventh leading cause of cancer death in women.”
Survival is improved the earlier the malignancy is identified, but unfortunately often it is not found until it has spread beyond the ovary.
Symptoms are often vague and mistaken for other gastrointestinal, urologic, or other conditions, but research shows that once a diagnosis has been made, most patients can positively identify that they experienced some of these symptoms in the time leading up to diagnosis.
●Urinary urgency or frequency
●Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
●Pelvic or abdominal pain
Symptoms that warrant further evaluation for ovarian cancer are those that are of new onset, coexist with other symptoms, occur almost daily, and are more severe than expected.
(In addition, many patients with ovarian cancer experience fatigue, indigestion, back pain, constipation and menstrual irregularities, but these symptoms are found just as commonly in the general population, so are less specific).
“Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.”
At this time there is not a routine screening test to detect ovarian cancer in the general public. Testing will be done in the office based on personal and family history of cancer (“the strongest known risk factor for ovarian cancer is a family history“) and symptoms. A positive family history or any suspicion of a tumor would require imaging and blood work done at regular intervals.
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, as a change from your norm and persisting over time, please make an appointment to see your Oakland Macomb provider. Also, please make sure your personal and family history is up to date on your chart so that your cancer risk assessment will be current.
As always, if you have specific questions about your health, please contact your Oakland Macomb provider.
(Information pulled from A.C.O.G guidelines for ovarian cancer and UptoDate on the topic ‘Epithelial cancer of the ovary, fallopian tube, and peritoneum’)