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