According to the American Cancer Society, more than 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month — the time of year when survivors, their loved ones, and the medical community alike work to educate women about this gynecologic cancer.
Ovarian cancer will cause more than 14,000 deaths this year alone. That’s 273 women a week, 39 each day, and nearly two every hour.
When the cancer is found in the early stages, 94 percent of ovarian cancer patients live five years or longer. So why is this disease claiming so many women? Ovarian cancer lacks a medically accurate tool to provide early detection. In fact, only 20 percent of ovarian cancers are diagnosed in the early stages.
Facts About Ovarian Cancer
Preventing Ovarian Cancer
Women must know the risk factors of ovarian cancer and pay careful attention to changes in their bodies. All women are at risk for developing ovarian cancer, but the following can increase your risk:
- Carrying BRCA gene mutation
- Advanced age
- Being of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage
- Family history of ovarian cancer
When to See Your Doctor If You Suspect Ovarian Cancer:
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Abdominal or pelvic pain
- Frequent or urgent need to urinate
- Fatigue, back pain
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Constipation or menstrual changes
- Pain during intercourse
Ovarian cancer has a reputation as a “silent killer,” but hopefully, that reputation changes and more is done to raise awareness of the symptoms, warning signs, and risk factors of the disease.
In 2013, actress and humanitarian Angelina Jolie shined a light on ovarian cancer when she made headlines in 2013, announcing that she planned to have her ovaries removed after discovering she had the BRCA1 gene. The presence of this gene meant that she had a 50 percent risk of developing this type of cancer and prompted her to plan to have her ovaries removed.
It’s important that all women understand their risk for developing ovarian cancer and take steps to decrease their risks. To learn more about ovarian cancer and the latest developments in the field, visit the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center website or call 412-647-2811.