Make Your Ovaries Happy This September – Facts You Must Know About Ovarian Cancer
This September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and to observe the event, visit your gynecologist to ensure your ovaries are healthy and happy. Ovarian cancer, which now ranks 5th in cancer deaths amongst women, is a serious condition and should not be taken lightly. Many women, who neglect annual OBGYN visits and/or don’t seek help when they don’t feel themselves, won’t be diagnosed until the cancer has spread substantially. Many times the symptoms will be mild or non-specific, making it difficult to tell there is something wrong. That being said, ovarian cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed cancers; it’s often mistaken for other diseases or conditions.
Be On The Lookout For Symptoms
As stated previously, many of the ailments that accompany ovarian cancer are very mild and most times not visible. Common symptoms include, but are not limited to:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Frequent urination
- Upset stomach
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
Why Is Ovarian Cancer Commonly Misdiagnosed?
The initial symptoms that surface during early onset ovarian cancer are similar to those of more benign conditions including ovarian cysts. Many women experience bloating, abdominal pain, and a lack of appetite in the early stages of this disease. These symptoms are likely to be misdiagnosed by a doctor as stress-related or a digestive disorder. In addition, many women along with their doctors may assume these symptoms are due to their monthly cycle.
Are You At Risk?
Some of the risk factors for ovarian cancer are based on an individual’s biological makeup, family and overall genetics, while others relate to lifestyle factors. Take a look at some of these attributes to find out if you have an increased chance of being diagnosed.
- Age: As you grow older, your risk of developing ovarian cancer increases. Approximately half of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are age 63 or older.
- Lifestyle Factors: Smoking cigarette, lack of exercise, a poor diet, and obesity may lead to an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
- Environment: Medical studies have linked ovarian cancer and talcum powder, particularly when used in the genital area. Thousands of legal proceedings have been filed by women whose ovarian cancer was caused by talcum powder. Other environmental factors that can increase risk include the use of pesticides and herbicides.
- Family History: Women whose mother, sisters, aunts, or grandmothers had ovarian tumors are more likely to develop the cancer.
Reducing Your Risk
There is not a known cure for ovarian cancer, however, preventative measures can be taken to lower the risk of developing malignant ovarian tumors.
- Pregnancy: Women who become pregnant may be at a lower risk for ovarian cancer than those who never become pregnant or who experience fertility problems.
- Contraceptives: Using an oral contraceptives for 5+ years reduces your risk of developing ovarian cancer. Consult your physician before beginning a contraceptive.
- Environmental: Avoiding the use of products such as talcum powder, herbicides, and pesticides could lower the risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Getting screened for ovarian cancer frequently, especially if you’re at a high risk for the disease, could help catch tumors early. This September, make an appointment with your OBGYN and ask any questions you may have about lowering your risk for ovarian cancer, or what they may recommend in terms of lifestyle changes. Let’s stop ovarian cancer in its tracks and give women everywhere a fighting chance before it’s too late. For more health and safety information, visit the ConsumerSafety.org website here.