Alliance Women’s Health wants to spread the word about the critical importance of early detection of ovarian cancer. September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. As the Ovarian Cancer Awareness advocacy group slogan says, it is crucial to your gynecological health to both “Get the Facts” and “Recognize the Signs.”
The Importance of Early Detection
Ovarian cancer has one of the highest mortality rates in women. It typically occurs in women in their fifties and sixties, but younger women can also be affected. Many women do not seek help until the disease has progressed to later stages. The good news is that when ovarian cancer is detected at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is greater than 93 percent.
There are limited screening test available for ovarian cancer at this time, which is why women typically discover it in its later stages. According to the Mayo Clinic, ovarian cancer is rare, with fewer than 200,000 cases newly diagnosed each year. Caught early, it is treatable. It requires a medical diagnosis, and lab tests or imaging are always required for accurate diagnosis.
What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Recognizing the signs of this disease early offers the most positive outcome. The most common symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary urgency or frequency
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer to watch for are:
- Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation, or diarrhea
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
You should talk to your doctor if these symptoms last longer than two to three weeks.
How Is Ovarian Cancer Diagnosed?
The first step for a diagnosed involves your doctor taking your history and performing a physical exam to look for signs of ovarian cancer. These signs include an enlarged ovary detected during a pelvic exam and signs of fluid in the abdomen, called “ascites.”
Based on your symptoms and the results of your physical exam, your gynecologist may also order radiological tests, such as a transvaginal ultrasound or a CT scan; and tests for blood markers such as CA-125, an indicator of this type of cancer. Imaging tests, including MRI scans and other procedures, can confirm the presence of a suspected pelvic mass.
River City OB/GYN will be glad to schedule your yearly gynecological exam to help protect you from ovarian cancer. Please contact us at (804) 362-0808 or schedule your appointment online. Remember, you are your own best advocate, and we are here to help you with any and all concerns regarding your gynecological health.