Knowledge is power when it comes to detecting and beating ovarian cancer.
Arm yourself with information this September during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. These four facts could help save your life.
1. All women with ovaries run the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Though certain factors such as genetic mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes may increase a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer, it is possible for women with no family history of the disease or genetic mutation to develop it.
Age is the most common risk factor for ovarian cancer. Most cases occur in women over age 40, and half happen in women age 63 or older. Be on the lookout for signs of this disease, especially if you fall in this age range.
2. Ovarian cancer symptoms are similar to those of other cancers and non-cancerous health problems. Is it ovarian cancer or something else? See Your doctor if you experience these common ovarian cancer symptoms:
- Persistent abdominal swelling
- Abnormal vaginal discharge or bleeding
- Pain in the abdomen, pelvis or back
- Frequent, urgent urination or defecation
- Fullness after eating little or difficulty eating
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Unexplained weight loss
- Painful intercourse
3. There is no routine screening for ovarian cancer. Pap smears and pelvic exams do not detect ovarian cancer, except in rare advanced cases. Pay attention to your body and report any symptoms you believe are related to ovarian cancer to your doctor as soon as possible.
He or she may recommend a biopsy, imaging such as transvaginal ultrasound, or blood tests for the protein CA-125 to help determine if you have ovarian cancer and recommend further treatment based on those findings.
4. Knowing the signs could save your life. Ovarian cancer responds best to treatment when it is detected before it has had a chance to spread to other areas of the body. On average, over 90 percent of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in its first stage live five years or more. Those numbers drop as the disease progresses. That’s why awareness and early detection are so important.