Did you know that September is ovarian cancer awareness month? There is so much information and promotion of breast cancer awareness in October, that it sheds light on the discrepancy of information that’s out there on ovarian cancer.
Ovarian cancer is a silent killer. It creeps up on its victims, invades the body, and spreads even before any symptoms are obvious.
My mother died from ovarian cancer when she was 58. She was diagnosed at 56 with stage IIIc ovarian cancer. She started treatment with a very extensive abdominal surgery to remove most of her cancer, then underwent a full round of chemotherapy. Then, she was cancer free. About three months after her first round of chemo was over, the cancer came back. This time the chemo wasn’t working. Multiple kinds of chemotherapy were introduced until the doctors found one that worked. And it only worked slightly. As she continued her rounds and rounds of chemo, body fluids crept into her peritoneal cavity (between the two membranes that separate the abdominal organs from the abdominal wall). This fluid, called ascites, had to be surgically drained from her abdomen as often as necessary, to keep her comfortable. She almost died after her first removal of ascites due to a severe drop in blood pressure. After a courageous two years fighting the cancer, my mom suddenly died. She had given up fighting. She didn’t want to live going from the hospital to the doctor’s office back to the hospital and so on. She let the cancer take her. It didn’t have to happen. If only she had known the symptoms.
Women need to get the word out on the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
- Back pain
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Pain during sex
- Constipation or menstrual changes
If symptoms persist for more than two weeks, see your physician. Persistence of these symptoms is key, especially if they don’t go away with normal changes, like diet, rest, and exercise.
According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC):
“In women age 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths. An estimated 1 woman in 75 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed this year and that more than 15,000 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.”
We need to educate our friends and family about the symptoms of this silent killer. If the cancer is caught and treated early, the 5-year survival rate is over 90%, but only 19% of all cases are found at this early stage. If the cancer is found in stage III or higher, the survival rate can be as low as 30.6%. Medical science is lacking in early detection tests for this kind of cancer. The non-specific symptoms also don’t make catching the disease any easier. That is why we need to be aware.
Get the word out there, know the signs, and see your doctor regularly. Together we can save our mothers, aunts, sisters, daughters, and friends.
If you need further information, please contact: