September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly of women’s cancers. Each year, approximately 21,980 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In 2014, an estimated 14,270 women will die in the United States from this disease. Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because the symptoms are often so subtle they are mistaken for common ailments. The difference is that they will occur almost daily and will not go away. The trouble is that by the time symptoms are considered an issue, the cancer has usually spread and is too advanced to treat effectively.

The World Health Organization IARC Department reported that there are over 238,000 new cases diagnosed annually and nearly 152,000 deaths worldwide.

This cancer typically occurs in women in their fifties and sixties with the median age being 63. However, it can affect young women, too. Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a genetic history, which may include carrying the BRCA mutation gene and a strong family history of ovarian cancer.

Unfortunately, many women do not seek medical attention for their symptoms until the disease has begun to spread. If detected in its earliest stages, the five-year survival rate is more than 93 percent.

Symptoms may include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic pain or abdominal swelling
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

Other symptoms may include:

  • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Low back pain
  • Weight gain
  • Vaginal bleeding

Currently, there is no adequate screening test available for ovarian cancer, which is one of the reasons that this cancer is often discovered in later stages.

If symptoms persist more than 2-3 weeks, you should talk to your doctor.

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