If you are like most women, the very idea of ovarian cancer is frightening. In fact, you may not want to think about it at all. However, September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, so this is an important time for you to learn all that you can about this disease. The more you know, the better you will be able to recognize it, catch it, and treat it.
The tricky thing about ovarian cancer is that its symptoms are not completely specific to this disease. They can also be related to bladder and digestive issues. Also, once the symptoms are obvious, the disease may have progressed substantially, making treatment a challenge.
Here are the warning signs to look out for:
- Pain or discomfort in the pelvis
- Pain in the lower back
- A feeling of swelling, bloating, or pressure in the abdomen—to the point where clothes feel tight
- Changes in bowel and bladder activity, including constipation or an increased need to go
- Indigestion, nausea, or gas that doesn’t go away
- Feeling full quickly or having a reduced appetite
- Persistent low energy
It is not clear what causes ovarian cancer, but some women are at higher risk. Factors that may increase your chances of the disease include the following:
- Having a family history of ovarian cancer
- Being previously diagnosed with cancer, such as that of the breast, rectum, uterus, or colon
- Never having been pregnant
- Being age 50 or older
- Having had hormone replacement therapy
- Inheriting certain gene mutations
If you are experiencing any symptoms or if you have some of these risk factors, it is important to talk to your doctor about being tested. The first step will likely be a pelvic exam and then, if your doctor finds anything suspicious, an ultrasound or an MRI. Surgery may be needed to test a sample of your tissue, and a blood test may provide answers as well.
Want to learn more? On Tuesday, September 27, St. Petersburg General Hospital is hosting a lecture: Prevention, Diagnosis and Treatment of Ovarian Cancer. It will begin at 6:00 p.m. and be held at:
3800 62nd Avenue North
Pinellas Park, FL 33781
Meghan Indermaur, MD, will lead the event and answer all your questions. For more information or to register, please call 1-888-741-5122.
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