Even though ovarian cancer kills more than 13,000 women in this country every year, the American Cancer Society website provides stories of hope. With new clinical trials and better awareness, the outlook is improving.
Because the ovaries in women are located rather deep inside the pelvis, small tumors can grow undetected. By the time the cancer has grown to a detectable size, it is often late in the course of the disease, which is why it has been referred to as "silent" killer.
Dr. Everardo Cobos said, "The death rate has been coming down and the therapies are becoming more effective. What we're lacking in ovarian cancer is the lack of a good screening test, which we don't have."
"Listening" for possible problems with your ovaries means learning to pay attention to some common, everyday symptoms, including:
Dr. Cobos said, "It may be constipation, may be gas, bloating, or a swollen stomach. And a lot of us have had those type of problems; however, they're short-lived. When they occur week after week after week, it's best to seek medical attention".
Since the vast majority of women found to have ovarian cancer at an early stage can be treated very effectively, learn to listen to your body. It might be whispering that there's a problem.
Tell your doctor about any family history of ovarian cancer, any personal history of menstrual irregularities, or pelvic surgery. While routine tests such as the Pap smear do not detect ovarian cancers, your doctor can perform more specialized studies to look into the problem.
A woman may feel a pressure in her pelvis or may develop discomfort in either her stomach or pelvis. This can be subtle, particularly at first. Some women sense that they must urinate frequently and that they can't "hold it" when the urge to urinate hits them. There may be a sense of feeling full faster than usual with meals. As fluid from an ovarian tumor starts to build, a woman might develop a sensation of abdominal bloating that she attributes to other things (what she's eaten, weight gain, etc.).
Dr. Cobos and other oncologists agree that ovarian cancer may be more "whispering" than "silent." subtle symptoms may occur that tip you off to a potential problem.
From the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center, I'm Dr. Tedd Mitchell, and this is the President's Prescription.
Copyright 2011 KCBD. All rights reserved