I want to thank David Marchetti, MD, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of GYN/OB and Gynecologic Oncology, SUNY at Buffalo for taking the time to discuss Ovarian Cancer and the recent article “Intraperitoneal Cisplatin and Paclitaxel in Ovarian Cancer”. It is important for all women to be aware of this serious disease. We all must be vigilant of the signs, symptoms and risk factors for Ovarian Cancer. We must be compliant with seeking healthcare from the available expert medical providers to strive for the earliest possible diagnosis of this deadliest of Gynecologic Cancers.
The warning signs of cancer of the ovary include:
· Discomfort in the pelvic region
· Indigestion, gas, or bloating that can’t be explained
· Abnormal vaginal bleeding
· Abdominal pressure or discomfort
· Urinary frequency, constipation or diarrhea
· Unusual fatigue
· Unexplained weight loss or gain
· Shortness of breath
Many cases of cancer of the ovary often are hard to detect until it is in an advanced stage.
Some factors may increase a woman’s risk:
· Had no children
· Have not used birth control pills
· Have a family history of the disease
· Have had breast cancer
· Have a family history of breast cancer
· Age (women older than 60 years have the highest risk)
· Changes in certain genes (BRCA1 and BRCA2)
If this cancer is found and treated early, the cure rate is good. Patients whose cancer has not spread outside the ovary have an 80–95% chance of living 5 years or longer after treatment. There is no sure way to screen for cancer of the ovary. Your doctor may be able to feel a cyst on one or both ovaries during your annual pelvic exam. Very few of these cysts will prove to be cancer. All should be checked for future growth.
Some factors may decrease a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer:
· Have used birth control pills
· Have had tubal sterilization
· Have had a hysterectomy (removal of the uterus)
· Have had at least one child and have breastfed
Certain women who are at high risk for ovarian cancer may reduce their risk by having an oophorectomy (removal of the ovaries).
Remember that you need to be proactive about your own health. Take action if you have noted any signs or symptoms, especially if persistent. Consult a healthcare professional preferably your gynecologist or a gynecologic oncologist. Experts recommend a pelvic/rectal exam, transvaginal sonogram, and a CA 125 blood test. Pap tests rarely detect ovarian cancer.