Ovarian cancer needs attention too

Published 12:00 am Friday, October 30, 2009

It makes no difference with what type of cancer a woman is diagnosed. It disrupts the entire family and everyone is affected.

While October is breast cancer awareness month, there are many types of cancers, and we need to learn all that we possibly can about all cancers.

Today you will be informed just a little about ovarian cancer, which is picking up speed with not enough research for a cure.

Email newsletter signup

Ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer among women. It ranks fifth in cancer deaths. A woman’s risk of getting invasive ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 71. It is a frightening diagnoses that often comes after it has already spread beyond the ovaries.

This cancer mainly develops in older women. Approximately half of women diagnosed are 60 or older. It is more common in white women than in black women.

It is a growth of abnormal malignant cells that begins in the ovaries. While causes of ovarian cancer are unknown, some theories exist.

Different types of ovarian cancer are classified according to the type of cell from which they start.

The stages are determined by how far the cancer has advanced. The stage at diagnosis is the most important indicator of prognosis.

Approximately 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage. When found early at a localized stage, about 94 percent of patients live longer than five years after diagnosis. Several large studies are in progress to learn the best ways to find ovarian cancer in its earliest stage.

Symptoms are, abdominal swelling or bloating due to a mass accumulation of fluid, pelvic pressure or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feelign full quickly and/or urinary symptoms, having to go urgently or often. Most of these symptoms tend to be more severe and are a change from how a woman usually feels.

If you have symptoms similar to those of ovarian cancer almost daily for more than a few weeks, and they can’t be explained by other more common conditions, report them to your health care professional, preferably a gynecologist, right away.

Frances A. Lewis is the health committee co-chairman for the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Southwest Mississippi Chapter.