September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and while we need to be mindful of our ovaries ALL the time, September is the perfect time to get updated on the newest information and statistics and, importantly, share it with the women we love.
I don’t have my ovaries anymore (I now refer to them as Astral Ovaries). I came very close to being an Ovarian Cancer statistic. If the tumors on my ovaries had not grown so large that my ovary torsioned and caused substantial pain, then cancer could have spread into my abdomen and been too late for any treatments. Looking back, the only symptom I had was a slightly irregular period about 2 weeks prior to the pain. And who hasn’t experienced that??
Ovarian Cancer Awareness is something very close to my heart. It has been 13 years now since my hysterectomy and I am passionate about spreading the message and increasing awareness of what is frequently called “the silent killer”.
Ovarian Cancer is called the Silent Killer because there are no apparent symptoms or they are vague and dismissed by patients AND doctors; there is no routine screening (even if you have insurance); and by the time it is detected, it can be extremely advanced (Stage 3 or 4). Women must become advocates for themselves, their daughters, their mothers, their friends. Knowledge is power and in this case, could save your life.
Ovarian Cancer takes the life of 2 out of every 3 women that are diagnosed with it.
In 2013, the American Cancer Society estimates:
- About 22,240 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
- About 14,230 women will die from ovarian cancer.
If ovarian cancer is caught early (Stage I) and while the cancer is confined to the ovary, there is a 94% survival rate!
Here’s the kicker: More than 70% women are not diagnosed until they have progressed to Stage III or IV, meaning that up to 45% of those women will only live for another five years.
We must be our own advocates and each other’s advocates in the fight against this silent killer.
Ovarian cancer may cause several signs and symptoms. Women are more likely to have symptoms if the disease has spread beyond the ovaries, but even early stage ovarian cancer can cause them. The most common symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)
These symptoms are also commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) diseases and by cancers of other organs. When they are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and represent a change from normal — for example, they occur more often or are more severe. If a woman has these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks, she should see her doctor, preferably a gynecologist.
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
However, these symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions, and they occur just about as often in women who don’t have ovarian cancer- still – better safe than sorry, see your doctor.
How can you help? By talking to your mother, sister, family members, friends and spreading the word about ovarian cancer symptoms.
Get involved with the fight against Ovarian Cancer – it could be life or death.
Do you have any good links or other organizations that spread the word about Ovarian Cancer?
Please share them below in the comments below!