September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Hoping to bring better awareness to new breakthroughs associated with detecting ovarian cancer, State Senator Suzi Oppenheimer (D-Mamaroneck) today noted that New Yorkers need to learn more about the symptoms of early disease. She said ovarian cancer used to be called the ‘silent killer’ because it rarely revealed symptoms in its earliest, most treatable stages. But ovarian cancer is silent no more.
"Traditionally, ovarian cancer has been hard to detect early because women with the disease may have mild, vague or no recognizable symptoms," Senator Oppenheimer said. "But recently a symptoms checklist, combined with a blood test, has been shown to catch more than four out of five ovarian cancers in the earliest, most curable stages."
Until there is an accurate early detection screening test for ovarian cancer, awareness of its subtle symptoms is an important key to earlier detection, she added. Research suggests that a cluster of symptoms, often mistaken for gastrointestinal problems, may indicate ovarian cancer: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, and urinary urgency or frequency.
"Many women experience these symptoms from time to time," the Westchester lawmaker said. "But if any of these symptoms persist nearly every day for several weeks, I urge you to get them checked out."
The American Cancer Society estimates that more than 21,000 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed this year, with 15,000 more women dying from it. Though hardly known, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among women, affecting one out of every 58 women.
Doctors cannot always explain why one woman gets ovarian cancer and another does not. However, women with certain risk factors may be more likely than others to develop the disease, though many women with risk factors will not.
According to the National Cancer Institute, risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
a family history of ovarian cancer (mother, daughter or sister); being over the age of 55; a personal history of having had cancer of the breast, uterus, colon or rectum; and never having been pregnant. Some studies suggest that women who take the hormone estrogen (without progesterone) for 10 years or more may have increased risk as well.
For more information on ovarian cancer, visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition at www.ovarian.org or call the American Cancer Society toll-free at 1-800-ACS-2345.
"The warning signs of ovarian cancer are there, if women know how to recognize them," Senator Oppenheimer concluded. Get the facts that can save your life."