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Ovarian Cancer – The Silent Killer

Did you know that according to the American Cancer Society, about 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and 14,000 will die of the disease? Ovarian cancer has a higher mortality rate than many other cancers because it has very few physical symptoms, which makes it challenging to detect in its early stages. Currently, there are no screening tests that are approved for ovarian cancer detection for women at conventional risk for the disease.

Recognize the signs/symptoms of ovarian cancer

  • Bloating/increase in abdominal size
  • Pelvic/abdominal pain
  • Frequently urinating/bladder changes
  • If these symptoms persist for two or more weeks, consult your physician. He or she will likely recommend a pelvic exam. If a mass is detected upon examination, your physician will be more likely to order a blood test called a C125. If your C125 level is abnormal, then an imaging ultrasound or a CT scan of the pelvic may be ordered. When someone is diagnosed with ovarian cancer, usually surgery and chemotherapy are the next steps.

    Surgical options may include:

  • Abdominal exploration
  • Total abdominal hysterectomy
  • Bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy
  • Bilateral pelvic and paraaortic lymphadenectomy
  • Omentectomy
  • Depending on the stage of the disease, surgical options may also require small or large bowel resection, splenectomy, peritoneal stripping, diaphragm resection, appendectomy, intraperitoneal port placement, or more.

    Generally, surgery will be followed by chemotherapy, typically starting within 3 to 4 weeks and continuing for as much as 18 weeks to make sure all of the cancer cells have been killed.

    If you have any of the signs and symptoms mentioned above, talk to your doctor as soon as possible.

    More information on ovarian cancer can be found on the Mayo Clinic website.

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