Women Must Be Their Own Doctors to Early Diagnose Ovarian Cancer

Cancer of the ovaries is known as the silent killer for good reason. It is notoriously difficult to diagnose because the symptoms it presents can be easily confused with so many other conditions. The signature of ovarian cancer is ‘persistent frequent and novel’ symptoms.

Thousands of cases of cancer in the ovaries of women are identified every year, but the local doctor will only get to see perhaps one or two sufferers in five years. The majority of tumors are benign and not cancerous. Cancerous tumors are more common however in older, particularly post menopausal women. Fifty percent of tumors for this at risk group will be cancerous. As with so many other cancers the key to survival from ovarian cancer is early detection.

Recent studies seem to suggest that there is a great deal more that can be done on the early diagnosis front. The majority of cases do in fact have symptoms, if only we could identify them, on average a full 12 months pre-diagnosis. Those symptoms may be vague and less than definite but there is growing evidence that ovarian cancer sufferers live with persistent, frequent symptoms that are new to them. The symptoms will probably include; pain in the stomach and or pelvis, on-going bloatedness and reduced appetite because of feeling full quickly. Less common but possible symptoms are abnormal lethargy and back pain, urgent need to urinate and changes in bowel movement patterns.

The groups most at risk of ovarian cancer are women over forty. However it is crucial that women of all ages are aware of changes in their bodies and compare them to the possible symptoms. These symptoms can arise from any number of courses and doctors are mostly unwilling to send their patients for unnecessary tests. However, the strongest known risk factor is still family history.

So if your symptoms persist over time, if they recur every day or so and if they appear out of the blue for no apparent reason make sure that your physician consider the possibility of ovarian cancer.

Because it is best to identify ovarian cancer at the earliest stage possible, and thereby get the better chance of survival it is absolutely vital that women constantly look out for the risk factors associated with the condition. Women who are into their fifth decade or older, women who have close family members that have had ovarian or breast cancer, or women who have had particular cancers in their own past are in much greater danger of developing ovarian cancer.

Every year in America there is an ovarian cancer awareness month sponsored by the White House and working hard to make the disease less silent.

The earlier cancer of the ovaries can be identified from among the confusion of possible symptom causes, the better it can be treated. Survival rates can be as high as seven out of ten for those fortunate cases that are diagnosed early. If you are seeing those symptoms at least once a month prompt your doctor to do a CA125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound.

Current guidelines do not recommend screening for women at average risk.  Why??? Because, unfortunately, both the CA125 blood test and transvaginal ultrasound screening methods are quite poor especially when used alone for early detection.

Claire Al-Aufi

Claire Al-Aufi is a contributing author for Hive Health Media who provides updates on health and fitness news.

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