In the United States alone, more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed annually. The diagnoses of a friend or loved one is frequently a surprise due to the lack of preventative testing and subtle symptoms. Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed in late stages, however, for patients fortunate to detect ovarian cancer early, or Stage I, the survival rate is over 90%.
Early detection. Little is known about what causes ovarian cancer and no current screening tests are available. Often mistaken for ovarian cancer detection, the Pap smear indicates cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. To detect ovarian cancer, physicians recommend an annual pelvic exam to detect lumps or abnormal tissue. If abnormalities indicating ovarian cancer are found, a trans-vaginal ultrasound investigating lumps more carefully and a CA-125 blood test (to measure a protein found on the surface of many ovarian cancer cells) may be consulted. Though these screenings are important to detecting ovarian cancer, even the combination of all of them can produce unreliable results. Knowing your family medical history can be vitally important to early detection of ovarian cancer. A woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a harmful mutation in the BRCA1 gene, or the BRCA2 gene. Physicians may recommend BRCA testing through a blood sample if their family history deems them “at risk.”
Symptoms. While ovarian cancer does present symptoms, they are often vague and frequently mimic those of benign conditions, like gastrointestinal disorders, making them extremely difficult to detect. Although ovarian cancer has been diagnosed in women as young as their teens, the highest occurrence is in women over 50 years of age.
Ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Cramping abdominal pain
- Loss of appetite
- Urinary and bowel discomfort
To learn more about ovarian cancer research and our world renowned CEO and scientists; attend one of our yearly fundraising events; or to volunteer to help with research funding contact the Ovarian Cancer Institute at 404-300-2997, or contact our team.