The catchphrase “not on my watch” can be used to describe standing guard while others are sleeping to keep danger away. There is an important watch coming up which all women should be aware of including: risks, detection and research.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and a reminder for all women of a cancer that one in 78 women will be diagnosed with during their lifetime. In women ages 35-74 ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
What are the FAQs?
- This cancer can affect one or both ovaries.
- Ovarian cancer is not common.
- Most women diagnosed are post-menopausal; the average age is 63.
- The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition estimates that about 14,200 women will die of ovarian cancer in the U.S. annually.
- A rate that has changed little in the last 50 years. The NOCC notes about 22,280 new cases are diagnosed in the U.S. each year.
What are the risks?
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), most women who get ovarian cancer, are not at high risk, but several factors may increase your risk:
- Genetic factors
- Personal or family history of breast, uterine or colon cancer
- Increasing age
- Having children later or never having a full-term pregnancy
- Taking hormone therapy after menopause
Are there symptoms?
Early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms, but at an advanced-stage may cause few and nonspecific symptoms that are often mistaken for more common benign conditions according to a review on the Mayo Clinic website.
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Quickly feeling full when eating
- Weight loss
- Pelvic discomfort
- Increased abdominal size
- Change in bowel habits, such as constipation
- Frequent need to urinate
Can you cut the risks?
Although there is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer the (CDC), outlines ways to lower the risks. The CDC also states that while these things may help reduce the chance of getting ovarian cancer, they are not recommended for everybody, and risks and benefits associated with each.
- If you notice any changes in your body that are not normal for you and could be a sign of ovarian cancer, talk with your doctor.
- Having used birth control pills for five or more years.
- Having given birth.
- Some studies suggest that women who breastfeed for a year or more may have a modestly reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
Who’s on watch?
The good news is when a woman is diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, the five-year survival rate is over 90 percent. Researchers across the globe, including those at Duke, are leading the way in studying ovarian cancer to help improve the chances for long-term outcomes. Duke’s strong patient partnership includes access to clinical trials, fertility services for cancer survivors, Hereditary Cancer Clinic and support for your whole being.
For those brave women who are fighting an ovarian cancer battle, we honor your strength, courage and promise to keep watch over you and will learn what we should do to protect ourselves.
The Information on this site is intended to raise awareness and understanding of specific health issues. It should not be used for diagnosis or a substitute for health care by your physician.