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Ovarian Screening Project
Ovarian Cancer Facts
Signs & Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
see the women's health center
click here to find out more about Sueosp100logo.jpg (5457 bytes)Ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers affecting American women today. This year alone, 14,000 women will die from ovarian cancer, and more than 23,000 will be diagnosed with the disease.
  • It ranks number 4 in the cause of cancer deaths in women.
  • Most of us have a less that 2% lifetime chance of developing ovarian cancer.
  • But, every year over 25,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • sonosite180.gif (7839 bytes)But while ovarian cancer is very treatable when detected early, currently 75 percent of new cases are not diagnosed until the disease is in its late stages of development, when treatment is less effective. With early detection, women have a survival rate of over 90 percent; diagnosis in its later stages, however, dramatically reduces the chances of survival to just 25 percent.

Early detection is the key
The reason for such a high death rate is directly related to the absence of early detection.  Many women do not realize they should ask for an internal ultrasound or transvaginal ultrasound (TVU) when they feel the possible symptoms of ovarian cancer.

In the early stages of ovarian cancer there are few symptoms because of where the cancer is growing.
The abdominal cavity is large and allows for much cancer growth before symptoms are felt.  Because of this, over 70% of women are diagnosed too late.

sonosite180.gif (7839 bytes)The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer can be vague
and many times attributed to other causes.  This proves to be a big problem for early detection.  Health care professionals do not think the cause of the following symptoms may involve the ovaries, in fact after all other testing is done THEN as a test of last resort a TVU is done to evaluate the ovaries.

The most common signs and symptoms
of ovarian cancer are:

  • Bloating- clothes may no longer fit, this is beyond monthly water retention
  • Feeling full after eating a small amount of food
  • Fatigue and tiredness- a general feeling of malaise
  • Low back pain
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Vague, but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea and indigestion
  • Frequency and/or urgency of urination without having an urinary tract infection
  • Unexplained changes in bowel habits;
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss, particularly weight gain in the abdominal region
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating, and/or feeling of fullness
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Abnormal postmenopausal bleeding (this symptom is rare).
"There is a burning need for an effective screening test" for ovarian cancer, explained Dr. Beth Karlan, director of gynecologic oncology at Cedar Sinai Medical Center, Los Angeles, California. She suggests that ultrasound may be that test.

Unfortunately, there is still no reliable and quick screening test for ovarian cancer like the Pap smear for cervical cancer or the mammogram for breast cancer. In addition, its symptoms - such as abdominal discomfort or bloating, cramps, unaccountable weight gain or loss, abnormal bleeding -- can often be mistaken for signs of less serious conditions. Consequently, raising awareness of risk factors for ovarian cancer is a crucial weapon in our effort to save lives. While every woman has the potential to develop ovarian cancer, the risk is higher for those who have never given birth; who are over the age of 50; or who have a family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer.

Research into the causes and treatment of ovarian cancer still offers us the best hope for progress in defeating this disease that has taken such a deadly toll on American families. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) is currently sponsoring a large-scale cancer screening trial to explore, among other issues, the usefulness of testing women's blood for abnormally high levels of CA-125, a substance known as a tumor marker, which is often discovered in higher than normal amounts in the blood of women with ovarian cancer. Researchers are also evaluating the effectiveness of ultrasound testing as a tool for early detection. To learn more about the genetic causes of ovarian cancer, the NCI's Cancer Genetics Network has established registries to track cancers within families to identify possible inherited risks.

As with every disease, knowledge is crucial to overcoming ovarian cancer. Ovarian Cancer Awareness Week offers us an invaluable opportunity to educate Americans about the symptoms and risk factors of the disease, to alert health care providers about the need for vigilance in recognizing those
symptoms and risks early, and to promote increased funding for research into more effective methods of diagnosis and treatment. The more we know about ovarian cancer, the more women and their families can live out their lives free from the shadow of this devastating disease.

Talk with your friends, your family, and make sure you know all you can know to make sure you are not at risk for ovarian cancer and if you are you know what to do.

ospnewslogo.jpg (5344 bytes)News from the Front
Mother and Daughter,
Together Fight the Battle

My name is Debbie Adams. My mom was diagnosed with Ovarian cancer in May.She has and still is going through a horrible battle of trying to save her life or at least live long enough to see her 6 grandchildren grow up. Find out more

Ovarian Cancer Awareness
What are the signs and symptoms of this hidden killer. Early diagnosis is the key. Find out more

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Save a Life - Yours!
The role of fertility drugs & ovarian cancer.
Liz Tilberis, in her book No Time To Die, chronicles her 6 year battle with ovarian cancer.  As the editor of the fashion magazine Harper's Bazaar her book received much recognition; as one of the few books about ovarian cancer it stands out. She illustrates the possible connection between fertility drugs the increased chance of ovarian cancer. Her life could have possibly been saved with the early use of a screening test that is ALREADY available in most doctors offices but that most doctors will not tell you about and most insurance companies will not pay for.
Find out more and save a life - YOURS!

Breast Cancer Facts
separating fact from fiction
by Sue Spataro, RN, BSN
There is so much in the media that scares the living life out of us. Breast   cancer is one topic that manages to catch all of our attention. The media report all the bad news and statistics but neglect to tell us what they really mean.

I'm Too Young to Get Old:
Health Care for Women After Forty

by Judith Reichman

Reichman has practiced obstetrics and gynecology for more than 20 years. From that extensive background, she addresses the most problematic aspects of health and aging for women over 40 in this reader-friendly book. She details the facts of contraception and fertility for midlife women and the risks and complications involved in later-life pregnancy and delivery in the book's first section, and in the second, she examines menopause, providing an unusually thorough discussion of how hormones work and their varying levels during perimenopause as well as detailed scrutiny of hormone replacement therapy and its alternatives.

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