September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month! It is time to bring attention to a female reproductive cancer that kills more women than other female reproductive cancers. Ovarian cancer takes more lives each year than breast cancer yet it does not have the same amount of exposure in the news and media.
If ovarian cancer is caught early there is a very high survivor rate. Because of this excellent news it is important to have early detection for it. During this month we in the medical community want to raise your awareness about your reproductive health.
Ovarian cancer is not a common cancer however it can be deadly because women sometimes do not detect any symptoms or their symptoms can be confused with other disorders.
If is caught early, before it spreads outside of the ovaries, there are treatments to put it into remission. If it is caught after it has metastasized and traveled outside of the ovaries, the survivor outcomes are much lower.
How can ovarian cancer be detected?
First and foremost, you have to trust your intuition about your body. If you feel that there is something wrong or you are having vague symptoms go to your primary care physician or gynecologist for an evaluation.
It is better to go to your doctor and find out it is just a stomachache or irregular periods, than not to go and find out a year later it is ovarian cancer.
Take notice if you experience any of the following symptoms for longer than a month:
- Gas or bloating, a feeling of fullness in the pelvis
- Frequent or urgent urination
- Nausea, indigestion, constipation, diarrhea
- Menstrual disorders, pain during intercourse
- Pain in the lower abdomen
- Bleeding from the vagina
- Weight gain or loss
- Unexplained back pain that gets worse
What are the next steps?
Your doctor will perform a physical and pelvic exam to identify the problem. Lab testing, ultrasounds, or biopsy may follow to confirm the diagnosis. Once the diagnosis is made your treatment options can include surgery or chemotherapy.
Ovarian cancer is a very treatable cancer if it is caught early. So if you are not feeling quite right and this situation continues for months at a time, be proactive and ask for more testing to find the answers to why you are not feeling well. It can make all the difference in your health!
Dr. Daemon Jones