September is known as “back to school”, Start of football season, and the end of summer, but did you know it is also Ovarian Cancer Awareness month? I was unaware until I was diagnosed with Stage 3C Ovarian Cancer in May 2011. My name is Liz and like thousands of women we are shocked to find out that we are so sick. The signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer are really quite vague. When I was diagnosed, I was working out 5 days a week and my only complaints were that I was gaining weight, felt bloated, and had mild cramps that didn’t even warrant a Tylenol. At my yearly GYN appointment I discussed these symptoms with my MD, just thinking I was getting close to 50 and they were typical menopause symptoms. That was the day I was told I had a mass and needed a CAT scan.
One of the problems is that I waited too long to go to the doctor and as we all know, the sooner we find the cancer, the better the prognosis, so please get to know the symptoms and don’t procrastinate!
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
Other symptoms of Ovarian cancer can include:
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Back Pain
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
While the symptoms are often not acute or intense, they are not silent; they whisper, so LISTEN! If symptoms persist for more than 2 weeks, ask your physician for screening Tests.
Although there is no consistently-reliable screening test to detect ovarian cancer, the following tests are available and should be offered to women, especially those at high risk for ovarian cancer.
- Pelvic Exam: Women age 18 and above should have a mandatory annual vaginal exam. Women age 35 and above should receive an annual rectovaginal exam (physician inserts fingers in the rectum and vagina simultaneously to feel for abnormal swelling and to detect tenderness).
- Transvaginal Sonography: This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate especially for women at high risk for ovarian cancer or for those with an abnormal pelvic exam.
- CA-125 Test: This blood test determines if the level of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells, has increased in the blood of a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer or with an abnormal pelvic examination. While CA-125 is an important test, it unfortunately is not always accurate. Some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries also increase the CA-125 levels, and some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 levels to cause a positive test.
While CA-125 is an important test, it unfortunately is not always accurate. Some non-cancerous diseases of the ovaries also increase the CA-125 levels, and some ovarian cancers may not produce enough CA-125 levels to cause a positive test.
Lets Break the silence of Ovarian Cancer! Spread the word to all the women in your life, it could be the best advice you could ever share.