September – Ovarian Cancer Month

The statistics for ovarian cancer in women is staggering. The American Cancer Society estimates 21,750 women will be diagnosed and 13,940 women will die from ovarian cancer in 2020. With COVID-19 lurking, these numbers may be even higher as this pre-existing condition may complicate someone who may contract the virus. Ovarian cancer ranks 5th in cancer deaths among women which accounts for more than any other female reproductive system cancers. 1 in 78 women will likely get ovarian cancer in their lifetime. These numbers do not include potential ovarian tumors. This type of cancer mainly develops in older women during or after menopause and is more common in white women than African-American women.

September is ovarian cancer month and is symbolized with a teal ribbon. Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that begins in the ovaries. There are 2 ovaries in the female reproductive system. This type of cancer will often go undetected until it spreads to the pelvis and abdomen. If this type of cancer spreads before it has been diagnosed, it is very difficult to treat and remove. Chemotherapy and/or surgery is generally used for treatment and/or removal.

What is ovarian cancer?

It is when abnormal cells in the ovary begin to multiply out of control and form a tumor.

Types of Ovarian Cancer

  • Epithelial tumors form in the layer of tissue on the outside of the ovaries. About 90 percent of ovarian cancers are epithelial tumors
  • Stromal tumors grow in the hormone-producing cells. Seven percent of ovarian cancers are stromal tumors.
  • Germ cell tumors develop in the egg-producing cells. Germ cell tumors are rare.

The signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Quickly feeling full when eating
  • Weight loss
  • Discomfort in the pelvis area
  • Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
  • A frequent need to urinate
  • Back pain
  • Abdominal pain
  • Upset stomach
  • Pain during sex
  • Changes in a woman’s period, such as heavier bleeding than normal

Screening Test

  1. The CA 125 cancer antigen blood test is available but “not recommended for women with an average risk of ovarian cancer”, according to the Mayo Clinic. According to the link, elevated CA 125 levels include other prognosis such as:
  • Endometriosis
  • Liver cirrhosis
  • Normal menstruation
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease
  • Uterine fibroids

2. The test used most often is TVUS (transvaginal ultrasound) which uses sound waves to look at the uterus, fallopian tubes and ovaries. A wand is inserted into the vagina and will help find a mass or tumor in the ovary. This test cannot detect if a tumor is cancer or benign.

3. Abdominal and pelvic CT scan or MRI. The CT scan is faster and will provide more information than an X-ray. A CT scan moves around the body and takes pictures at different angles, whereas an X-ray takes it from one angle. Depending on what the doctor orders, you may have to drink an oral contrast such as barium or they may inject a dye into an IV to get better results.

4. If you are allergic to barium, iodine or any other contrast dye, you doctor may order an MRI.

Is Ovarian Cancer hereditary?

Yes, in a small percentage of ovarian cancer cases, the cause is from a gene mutation inherited by the parents. The genes known to increase the risk are called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). These same genes increase the risk of breast cancer. Genetic tests detect mutations associated with these inherited genes.

Most ovarian cancers are not inherited but are acquired during a woman’s life. It is unknown what causes these uninherited mutations.

Help Support Research

Inspired by Beth at Wandering Dawgs, Our Eyes Open Designs is raising money by offering a few products for purchase that have the teal ribbon. 50% of the profits of these special items will be donated to OCRA (Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance). OCRA is the oldest and largest ovarian cancer charity in the world, headquartered in New York City, NY. They have been incorporated since 1994 and has raised over 100 million dollars to end ovarian cancer. OCRA is the only ovarian cancer-dedicated voice on Capitol HIll who advocate for hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding, specifically for research that comes from the National Cancer Institute and Department of Defense. This funding also helps with health policies benefiting women.

Drinkware
Key Chain
Phone Wallet
License Plate

On a personal note: My mom had ovarian cancer but was lucky to have caught it early. She was able to have a partial hysterectomy removing one of the ovaries that was cancerous. I had endometriosis and had a complete hysterectomy when I was 29. So I never had the cancer, but all of the symptoms I listed above were symptoms I had. I was told by my doctor that I had a high percentage of developing ovarian cancer if all my plumbing wasn’t removed. I have no regrets. By that time, I had 3 children and felt my family was complete.

15 Comments on “September – Ovarian Cancer Month

    • Yes, John it is sad and hopefully they can get better at detecting it. That’s why I’m doing what I can to help with getting orders so I can donate to the cause. 🙂

      Like

  1. My mom died of ovarian cancer in 2014 after the cancer moved into her kidneys. She had been sick for 4 years. And I have two friends whose mothers died of ovarian cancer. So sad. Like you, I had a complete hysterectomy. I’m glad your mother caught it in time and that you have avoided it, too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh, I’m so sorry to hear about your mom and your friend’s moms. My mom had her life extended her life by 30 years. A stroke killed her 6 years ago. But she still had to go through the surgery back in 1984, just before I was leaving for boot camp. Glad you avoided it as well. Hope I can get a good donation to OCRA. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lisa, thank you for this powerful post and for helping to spread ovarian cancer awareness. I had no idea ovarian cancer had affected you personally. I so glad your mother caught hers early and is ok now. Wishing you lots of luck selling your teal ribbon products!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks Beth…you were my inspiration so we shall see how it goes. My mom’s life was extended by 30 years because they caught it early. Unfortunately, a stroke killed her 6 years ago. If the doctor’s hadn’t got it out, I may not have gone into the Marine Corps. She had her surgery between me graduating high school and going to boot camp. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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