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Ovarian Cancer: What All Women Need to Know

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Ovarian cancer is a killer disease.
• It is the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers and the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among American women.

• One in 71 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime.

• More than 21,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.

• More than 15,000 American women died from the disease in 2008. Early detection greatly increases survival.

• Ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose because symptoms are often subtle and easily confused with other conditions.

• When ovarian cancer is detected before it has spread beyond the ovaries, nine out of 10 women will survive for more than five years. However, only 19% of ovarian cancer cases in the United States are diagnosed at this early stage.

• Approximately 67% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries.

• The overall five-year survival rate is approximately 46%. Learn ovarian cancer’s subtle symptoms.

• Many people do not know that ovarian cancer causes these symptoms in the majority of women who develop the disease: bloating; pelvic and abdominal pain; difficulty eating or feeling full quickly; and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency).

• Additional symptoms may include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities.

• Research shows that 90% of women with early-stage ovarian cancer do experience symptoms. With out increased education, many women, and their doctors, will ignore or misinterpret symptoms.

• Women need to know if they may be at a higher risk for ovarian cancer, and what action to take, such as exploring whether to have a hysterectomy. Factors that increase risk include: increasing age; personal or family history of ovarian, breast or colon cancer; and never having been pregnant or given birth to a child.

• About 10 to 15 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a hereditary tendency to develop the disease. More research is needed to develop an early detection test and a cure.

• There is no reliable and easy-to-administer early detection test for ovarian cancer (as there is for cervical cancer with a Pap test).
• Ovarian cancer research is drastically under-funded from a survival perspective. Federal appropriations for ovarian cancer research have declined in real dollars, although the death rate has remained stagnant for 30 years.


Add a Comment10 Comments

This is great information! I believe a key element is prevention. Lots of groups will focus on a cure but I believe there needs to be an emphasis on prevention, having hormonal balance is critical and so is diet, processed foods and environment are making us estrogen laden. Acidic bodies are where cancer likes to live and that is partly caused by the consumption of processed foods, sugars, and over consumption of meat and dairy (we should eat only 20%or less of animal and animal product). I have noticed that very few of the researches into cancer focus on prevention and education on prevention.

Thanks again for the statistics and keeping it in the forefront.

September 18, 2009 - 10:24am

It was a useful info. I have noticed that awareness on Ovarian Cancer is equal to zero around me. I am seriously taking a lead to make my community aware of this deadly disease. Thank you so much for making us aware.

September 17, 2009 - 10:42pm
EmpowHER Guest

In honor of September being National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, the OvarianCancerAwareness.org Coalition will be holding its fourth annual Teal Ribbon Awards tonight at the Royal Sonesta Hotel in Cambridge (40 Edwin Land Boulevard) from 6:00-8:00 PM. The Teal Ribbon Awards were created to honor the commitment and hard work of men and women around the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. This year's honorees include:

Ross S. Berkowitz, MD - Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women's Cancer Center
Barbara Browne - Founding Member, OCEAN @ MGH
Nancy Farrell - in memory of Patricia Cronin
William Gaine - Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association

Also, several venues in Massachusetts will be illuminated in teal, including:
The Leonard P. Zakim Bunker Hill Bridge, Bank of America Pavilion, Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway, and Westin Waterfront Hotel.

Follow the event live on twitter at twitter.com/ovarcanceraware

September 15, 2009 - 10:40am

Kelley, Thank you for joining the Ovarian Cancer Movement. ( I met you at the walk today!) Wasn't it fantastic to see so many people walking to conquer ovarian cancer? . . .

Every 37 minutes, a woman in this country dies of ovarian cancer. We want to give all women their best chance of survival. For now, we're educating women. But for future generations, like your daughter's, we are pushing research in the management- and someday the cure - of this disease. . . .

And, thank you, EmpowHer for bringing so much focus on ovarian cancer this month. We appreciate what you do for our community. . . .

Annette Leal Mattern, Board of Directors
Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

September 13, 2009 - 3:22pm

I attended the Ovarian Cancer walk today with my EmpowHer team and my 14 year old daughter. As I was driving there today I was trying explain to my daughter why this is such a deadly form of cancer but did not know the symptoms. Your post answered that question-Many thanks! I am going to make Ovarian Cancer Research one of my key charities, as I am sad to hear the funding for this cancer is far below where it needs to be. Some one has to come up with better tests to diagnose this disease earlier.

Thanks for organizations like Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

September 13, 2009 - 2:12pm
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to Kelley Howard)

So Glad you liked the walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer on September 13th - that was presented by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. It is slightly different from OCNA, but they both have missions for Ovarian Cancer Education and Awareness.

September 18, 2009 - 8:28am
EmpowHER Guest

Unfortunately, Pap smears are not used in diagnosing ovarian cancer. They are for cervical cancer. The only diagnostic methods for ovarian cancer in general use are CA-125 (a blood test) and transvaginal ultrasound, but they are not so great at finding ovarian cancer, and they are not recommended as a screening test because they don't work well enough.

September 13, 2009 - 3:53am

Thanks for this article. We focus so much on breast cancer that we forget there are other female specific cancers that also need our attention and funding. It's just as important to get your annual pap smear as your mammogram.

September 11, 2009 - 7:44pm
EmpowHER Guest

Stage 1c OvC survivor diagnosed 1/2005

September 11, 2009 - 11:05am

Excellent! Now every woman reading this article should send it to her sisters, friends and associates. Until there's a test for this disease, education about the symptoms is the best defense. Help spread the word!

September 10, 2009 - 12:53pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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