Yesterday, the Dr. Oz Show focused on the importance of early awareness and detection of ovarian cancer warning signs. Often referred to as the “silent killer” because of the commonness of symptoms and even lack of symptoms, new research is showing that there are early warning signs in some women. Dr. Oz educated his audience on the importance of becoming aware of the symptoms so you can keep a watchful eye on your health.
The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has partnered with the “Dr. Oz Show” to present the “Dr. Oz Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer” campaign, which works to assess ovarian cancer risk factors and offer screenings to women who show increased risk. Dr. Oz and the coalition have created a worksheet that you can bring to your doctor that documents possible ovarian cancer symptoms you may be experiencing. Print the sheet here.
Also click here to visit the Dr. Oz Show Ovarian Cancer on his website for more interactive information.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, dedicated to educating women on the eighth most common cancer among women in the United States and the fifth leading cause of cancer death.
As part of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Friday, September 2, 2011, was National Teal Day – which encouraged women to wear teal to increase awareness about the disease. Even though National Teal Day has passed, wearing teal any day during the month of September can increase awareness.
“Wearing teal clothes, hats, jewelry or even nail polish can spark a conversation about ovarian cancer,” Ronni Arno Blaisdell, Director of Communications and Public Outreach for the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition‘s (NOCC), told genConnect.
The NOCC urges everyone to T.E.A.L: Take Early Action & Live!”
The NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer, a disease that claims 15,000 lives annually in the U.S.
“We stress awareness because ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in earlier stages show survival rates of up to ninety percent while cases diagnosed in late stages show a thirty percent survival rate,” Blaisdell says. “That’s a big difference.”
Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the “silent killer” because ovarian cancer symptoms are few and often mimic those of many other illnesses. Symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and urgent or frequent urinary symptoms. There also may be no symptoms present in the early stages.
“The symptoms are vague and common so it feels like it can be almost anything,” Blaisdell says. “It is important to know your body and what is normal.” If the symptoms last longer than two weeks, the NOCC suggests talking to your doctor.
Once an ovarian cancer case is detected, there are several tests used quickly and safely to remove cancer masses, including a 2009 FDA-approved blood test called Ova-1 which has gained national attention as the test is used to detect the malignancy of ovarian clusters.
“Ova -1 is a promising, new test,” Blaisdell says. “It is yet another tool in the doctor’s tool chest to assess the risk of a mass, whether it is benign or malignant.”
Even with promising new tests like Ova-1 and other tests which can detect ovarian cancer in its earliest stages, prevention still remains the largest problem.
“Right now, there is no known method to prevent ovarian cancer,” Blaisdell says. “However, there are some things that appear to reduce women’s risks.”
The following are a few options for reducing risk, Biaisdell says:
- Taking birth control pills/oral contraceptions
- Breastfeeding and pregnancy
- Tubal ligation (tying of fallopian tubes)
Even though these can reduce the likelihood of ovarian cancer, it doesn’t prevent it altogether.
“Alternatives like eating right, exercising and reducing stress are all important in any prevention program,” says Blaisdell,who hopes women use Ovarian Cancer Awareness month to educate themselves about symptoms and prevention.
“Early diagnosis is the key to survival, and the key to early diagnosis is awareness and education.”
For more information on ovarian cancer symptoms, prevention and awareness, visit www.ovarian.org.
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Reporting by Kelly Burke