As an ovarian cancer diva, it would be remiss of me not to send out information about this disease in light of the fact that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness month. Accounting for only about 3% of cancers in women, it’s the most deadly of all the gynecological cancers and 5th deadliest among women for all cancers after lung, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. Public awareness of ovarian cancer is crucial to help women get information about this disease and to help fund research.
As every cancer seems to have a color, if you didn’t know, teal is the color for ovarian cancer. What better way to end the summer than with a great new teal pedi or mani/pedi if you are so inclined!
Known as a “silent” killer, ovarian cancer is difficult to diagnose at the early stages when it is not only most treatable, but actually curable. For 2014, approximately 22,000 new cases will be diagnosed, and 14,000 women will die. Approximately 30% of diagnoses will occur at Stages I and II, 70% will be at Stages III and IV.
Five year survival rates for Stage I patients are approximately 94%, plummeting to 27% for late Stages III and IV.
While these statistics are based upon large groups of people and are not intended to predict individual outcomes, it is worth noting the wide discrepancy in survival between Stage I and advanced stage ovarian cancers, simply due to a lack of effective screening protocols.
If symptoms present, and they sometimes do, sometimes don’t, the vague nature of them often drives women to get medical advice from doctors other than gynecologists, i.e., gastroenterologists, internists, or pulmonary specialists. Usually this works out fine if the doctor is on top of his game, but sometimes this results in misdiagnosis and wasted time. This can be deadly for the patient, where for the more aggressive (and most common) versions of the cancer, time between onset of the disease (not the onset of symptoms, the disease!) and diagnosis can sometimes be measured in weeks, not months or years.
There has been a lot of research to develop a screening test for ovarian cancer, but there hasn’t been much success so far. The two tests used most often to screen for ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test.
“Finding a screening mechanism would be the Holy Grail in the fight against ovarian cancer. When caught early, it’s not just treatable, it’s curable.”
— Karen Lu, M.D, MD Anderson Cancer Center
TVUS is a test that uses sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries by putting an ultrasound wand into the vagina. It can help find a mass (tumor) in the ovary, but it can’t actually tell if a mass is cancer or benign. When it is used for screening, most of the masses found are not cancer.
We would expect low rates of cancer are found when screening with TVUS due to ovarian cancer’s relatively low incidence rate. With prognosis so high at the early stages and so low at the later stages, many experts recommend if you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, or are postmenopausal and have your ovaries, or if you’ve been tested positively for BRCA 1/2 mutations, a TVUS should be part of your annual gynecological exam.
CA-125 is a protein in the blood. In many women with ovarian cancer, levels of CA-125 are high. This test can be useful as a tumor marker to help guide treatment in women known to have ovarian cancer, because a high level often goes down if treatment is working.
But CA-125 has not been found to be as useful as a screening test for ovarian cancer. The problem with using this test for screening is that common conditions other than cancer can also cause high levels of CA-125. In women who have not been diagnosed with cancer, a high CA-125 level is more often caused by one of these other conditions and not ovarian cancer. Also, not everyone who has ovarian cancer has a high CA-125 level.
A Pap smear is NOT a test for ovarian cancer. The Pap test, which is part of a routine pelvic exam, is an effective diagnostic tool for ob/gyn physicians to detect cervical cancer, but it does not detect ovarian cancer. Cervical cancer is the only gynecological cancer (cervical, ovarian, uterine, vaginal and vulvar make up the 5 gynecological cancers) that can be prevented with routine screening.
Researchers continue to look for new tests to help diagnose ovarian cancer early but currently there are no reliable screening tests.
Recent findings suggest, however, that some women diagnosed even at earlier stages reported symptoms, so perhaps it’s not such a “silent” disease after all. Awareness of symptoms then becomes crucial if it will help in earlier detection until an effective screening tool can be found.
B is for Bloating that is persistent and doesn’t go away;
E is for Eating difficulties, e.g., heartburn, nausea, or feeling full more quickly;
A is for Abdominal or Pelvic Pain you feel most days;
T is Trouble with Urination (urgency or frequency) or change in bowel habits.
These symptoms may be caused by ovarian cancer or by other less serious conditions. It is important to check with a doctor, preferably a gynecologist, about these potential ovarian cancer symptoms if they are new and persist for 2-3 weeks, especially if you experience several at one time.
So as they say ‘pick a color’: (these are just suggestions)
- OPI “Teal the Cows Come Home” NL B54
- Nicole by OPI “Blue Lace” NI 171 — very similar to the OPI.
- Blue Suede Shoes by Poofy Organics – a nice dark teal, perfect for fall. Safe for pregnant women, kids, cancer patients and allergy sufferers. Chip resistant, durable, non-yellowing, cruelty free, packaged in 100% recycled packacging.
and when someone compliments you, just tell them you’re wearing it for Ovarian Cancer Awareness month and tell them about BEAT!
Thanks for reading, and if you think someone could use this information, please forward.