September: Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month, part 1.

September is ovarian cancer and prostate cancer awareness month.  Today we are focusing on the ladies.

A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78, and her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108.  Ovarian cancer is the number one cause of  death due gynecologic cancers of the female reproductive system.  According to the American Cancer Society, approximately 14,240 women in the United States will die of ovarian cancer this year, a number which has not changed much over the last 50 years and is why early detection is so important.

Unfortunately, there is no accurate screening test for ovarian cancer.  Only rarely does a Pap smear detect ovarian cancer.  Women should have rectal and vaginal pelvic exams every year.

Some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Lack of appetite due to becoming full quickly
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal or pelvic pain
  • Back pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Menstrual changes
  • Fatigue
  • Heartburn
  • Constipation
  • Frequent need to urinate

If  any of the above symptoms persist daily for two weeks, consult your doctor.

Ovarian cancer does have some risk factors which your should discuss with your doctor. These include:

  • Age. Ovarian cancer is most common in women ages 50 to 63 years, but can occur at any age.
  • Family history of ovarian cancer.
  • Inherited gene mutations known as BRCA1 AND BRCA2 along with Lynch syndrome increases risk.
  • History of hormone replacement therapy.
  • Early age or late age of onset of menstruation

If ovarian cancer is suspected, imaging and blood testing will be performed.  However, the only way to definitively diagnose ovarian cancer is with a biopsy.  Again, if you have any of the above symptoms or are at risk for ovarian cancer, see your doctor right away.

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