Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women. The American Cancer Society estimates that 21,650 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. in 2008 and about 15,520 women will die from the disease. It is an insidious disease that can strike without warning or cause.
The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and subtle, making it difficult to diagnose. There is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer but there are tests which can detect ovarian cancer when patients are at high risk or have early symptoms. In spite of this patients are usually diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. Only 19% of cases are caught before the cancer has spread beyond the ovary to the pelvic region. However, when ovarian cancer is detected and treated early on, the five-year survival rate is greater than 92%.
Until we have better early detection tools, all women should be educated about the disease so they can achieve early diagnosis and successful treatment. A woman's lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 67. Listen to your body. Do not ignore symptoms.
Signs & Symptoms
• Vague but persistent and unexplained gastrointestinal complaints such as gas, nausea, and indigestion
• Abdominal bloating, pelvic and/or abdominal pain, and/or feeling of fullness
• Unexplained change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
• Unexplained weight gain or loss
• Frequency and/or urgency of urination
• Unusual fatigue• Shortness of breath
• New and unexplained abnormal postmenopausal vaginal bleeding
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