September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. This is a great time to support ovarian cancer organizations and to help raise awareness about this disease. Teal is the color used to represent and bring awareness to ovarian cancer. The signs aren't always obvious - symptoms are sometimes described as the ovarian cancer whisper, which is why it is important for women to know their bodies. If something is causing concern, be sure speak with your doctor. There are very few warning signs, but talking to your doctor if you feel like something isn't right can be the best defense against the disease. Actually, when detected early enough the 5 year survival rate is 93%.
The main symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
* bloating or internal gas
* nausea, lack of appetite or feeling full quickly
* urinary frequency or urgency
* unexplained changes in bowel habits
* unexplained weight loss or gain
* decreased lack of energy that is ongoing
If you have a combination of these symptoms and they last for 2-3 weeks be sure you consult your doctor.
While the exact cause of ovarian cancer isn't known, there are some factors which can put certain people at a greater risk of developing the disease than others.
* Age -- more specifically women over 45 years old
* Genetics -- if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer you are at risk of developing ovarian cancer. If you have had breast cancer your risk for ovarian cancer also increases.
* BRCA1 or BRCA 2 -- an inherited gene mutation that puts women at a much higher risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer.
* Infertility or No pregnancies
It is important to remember that all women are at risk and that why it is so important to bring awareness and donate to cancer research organizations so they will have the funds they need to learn more about early detection, prevention ans treatment. While yearly gynecological exams do not always test for ovarian cancer, getting a routine pelvic and rectal examination is a good first step. Also, ask your doctor about the CA125 blood test, which tests the level of a substance in the blood that increases when a cancerous tumor is present. While the test can be a good tool for those at high risk of developing the disease, it isn't recommended for women of normal or ordinary risk. This is because the test can miss over 50% of cancers and can be raised by benign conditions.
Since September is ovarian cancer awareness month, be sure to talk to the women in you life to ensure they know about the risks and symptoms associated with the disease. In addition, if you are concerned that you maybe be at risk for developing ovarian cancer have a talk with your doctor and ALL women should be getting regular check-ups.