On April 5, 1996, mom passed away. She died from one of the most insidious diseases. We didn’t know to recognize the symptoms early enough (she was also one to seldom complain). By the time she was diagnosed with ovarian cancer it was too late.
Fourteen years later, I cry over where we are today.
In the U.S., a woman’s lifetime risk of developing invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 71. A woman’s lifetime risk of dying from invasive ovarian cancer is 1 in 95. It’s estimated that more than 22,000 women in the U.S. alone will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and more than 15,000 will die from it.
According to data from the National Cancer Institute, the mortality rates for ovarian cancer have not improved in thirty years. Thirty years! It continues to hold the distinction of being the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the U.S. and the deadliest gynecologic cancer.
Ovarian cancer used to be called the “Silent Killer” because it was thought that symptoms didn’t develop until there was little chance of a cure. That is NOT the case, but early detection is key. And, few people I know are familiar with the symptoms. I, personally, still consider it a “Silent Killer” because we have kept silent in educating ourselves about the symptoms, and demanding more research into prevention, diagnosis and treatment.
We need to stand up and start making noise!
Symptoms can be subtle, and confused with those of other diseases or conditions. This makes ovarian cancer hard to diagnose. Know your body and watch for the following symptoms:
- Pelvic and/or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Other symptoms can include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities.
It is suggested that women who have these symptoms “almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist.” For more information, see the Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Consensus Statement.
Again, symptoms of ovarian cancer are typical of many other ailments. Do NOT panic if you have these symptoms, but see your doctor. Note that statistically, ovarian cancer primarily develops in women over 45.
Mammograms can detect breast cancer, Pap tests can detect cervical cancer. Unfortunately, there is no definitive test for ovarian cancer diagnosis. Yet. This is all the more reason why we must heighten awareness for more research into this disease.
A combination of the following is recommended:
- vaginal-rectal pelvic examination (also called a bimanual exam),
- transvaginal ultrasound,
- CA125 blood test (Note: The CA 125 test alone is Not effective in detecting ovarian cancer. It misses half of early cancers and is known to give false positives).
The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) site suggest that “none of these tests are definitive when used on their own. They are most effective when used in combination with each other.”
The Good News
On August 3, the Senate (of the United States) passed, by unanimous consent, a resolution recognizing September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. So, let’s make some noise!
WE CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE!
The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, in cooperation with several other organizations, has put together a BEAT Ovarian Cancer flyer (Bloating that is persistent, Eating less and feeling fuller, Abdominal pain, Trouble with your bladder) to raise awareness about the symptoms of this disease. We invite you to:
- download (pdf version) it and print out copies to post on your office bulletin board or at your fitness club, and take to your book club, bridge club or political action group,
- link a copy to your Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn posts or
- link this blog posting to your FB, MySpace or LinkedIn posts or on Twitter (see “Share this” links below),
- email this to every woman you know and every man who has a female partner or friends who are women (in other words, to everyone).
If you have other ideas, PLEASE let us know.
Steam Out Wrinkles for Ovarian Cancer Research
Create a Banana Split for Ovarian Cancer Research
As of Sept. 8th, Kelly Confidential has a new game to play. Choose a garment online and steam (“click”) the item from “rumpled to runway-ready”. For every steaming you do, Electrolux donates $1 to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. And, you can enter to win prizes including shopping sprees! You can play to donate and enter every day til the end of the month! (Text added Sept 9th)
Go to Kelly Ripa’s Kelly Confidential site and Create Banana Splits. For every split you make, Electrolux donates $1 (US) to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (til Sept. 7th Only!). It’s fun and takes only a few seconds. (I personally like chocolate, vanilla, and strawberry ice creams with caramel sauce, no cherry, and extra whipped cream! How about you?) You can also enter to win a stand alone refrigerator/freezer.
Cupcakes for Cancer
Teal Velvet from Georgetown Cupcates
If you order Teal Velvet cupcakes at Georgetown Cupcakes during the month of September, 100% of proceeds will benefit the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA). They can be shipped anywhere in the United States.
To order call (202)333-3309 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please reference the Teal Velvets
. If you live in the DC area, you can purchase the Teal Velvets
at either of their locations on Sundays and Mondays during September. Georgetowncupcake.com
Other initiatives to come as the month progresses. We welcome ideas!
IMPORTANT: For each (and every) of the initiatives above or elsewhere you take on in creating Ovarian Cancer Awareness, we’d appreciate if you’d let us know via Comments below, on our Contact Us page, or email us at: 52weeksofimpact(at)gmail.com.
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