Education is key for early detection of ovarian cancer. Know the symptoms, listen to your body, see a medical professional, and don’t take no for an answer until you rule it out. See What You Need to Know at the end of this post.
Many thanks to Gay Lenner, Jaime Ackerman, Shirley Leaderman, Melanie Zucker, and Alli Allen who organized and produced Owareness – Shouting for a Cure, a community-wide event to educate the rest of us about the cancer that whispers, ovarian cancer. So grateful for these visionaries and organizers, some of who had the courage to stand up and tell their stories and educate the rest of us about this insidious disease. Over 400 women and men attended the event and learned about the facts, the symptoms, and the risk factors.
The program was well done and we walked away well informed about what ovarian cancer is, how there is no test for early detection and that the only way to catch it early is to know the symptoms, know your body and don’t take no for an answer until you feel you’ve ruled it out. Genetic testing was also discussed. WXIA-TV’s Donna Lowry moderated a panel of leading experts in the field, including Dr. Benedict Benigno of University Gynecologic Oncology at Northside Hospital; Dr. Ira Horowitz, a gynecologic oncologist at Winship Cancer Institute at Emory University; Jaime Ackerman of Atlanta Gastroenterology; and genetic counselors from Northside Hospital, Emory University, and WellStar.
What you need to know:
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Urinary frequency and urgency
- Increased abdominal size and bloating
- Difficulty eating and feeling full
- Unusual fatigue; unexplained weight loss or gain; shortness of breath; or low back pain
- Other symptoms may include constipation or diarrhea, nausea, indigestion or gas; abnormal vaginal bleeding.
TAKE ACTION – See a gynecologic oncologist if any symptoms last for more than three weeks. Experts suggest a combination pelvic/rectal exam, CA 125 blood test, and transvaginal ultrasound.
Who is at risk
- Women of any age are at risk
- Increasing age raises risk
- Personal or family history of breast, colon or ovarian cancer
- Never been pregnant or born children
- Occurs in 1 in 55 women
- Early detection improves survival rates
- There is no test. A Pap smear only detects cervical cancer
- Causes symptoms, even in early stages
Source: Georgia Ovarian Cancer Alliance