According to the National Cancer Institute, ovarian cancer will be diagnosed in approximately 1.5%, or 1 in 71, women in their lifetime. September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and it’s a good reminder to schedule your annual appointment with your OB-GYN. Because most women do not experience any symptoms of ovarian cancer, it’s important to be in tune with your body and feel comfortable talking to your doctor about any changes.
While ovarian cancer is harder to detect than other cancers, there are some symptoms women can watch out for, especially if they persist for two weeks or longer: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, back pain, enlargement or swelling of the abdomen, inability to eat normally, unexplained weight loss, urinary frequency or incontinence, constipation, feeling tired and indigestion.
A malignant cyst on the ovaries may be found during a routine yearly pelvic exam. Other diagnosis options are vaginal ultrasound, laparoscopy or blood tests.
A vaginal ultrasound procedure uses sound waves to create pictures of your internal organs, which allows doctors to identify the shape, size, location and makeup of the cyst.
Laparoscopy is a type of surgery, during which a laparoscope is inserted into the abdomen to view the pelvic organs. Laparoscopy also can be used to treat cysts.
For women past menopause age, in addition to an ultrasound, your doctor may recommend a blood test that measures the amount of CA 125 in your blood. An increased CA 125 level may be a sign of ovarian cancer in women past menopause.
Treatment for ovarian cancer is based on the stage of the cancer and how much the cancer has spread outside the ovary. Epithelial ovarian cancer has four stages. Usually, surgery to remove the uterus and ovaries is performed. Sometimes, lymph nodes and tissue from the abdomen may be removed as well. Surgery may be followed by chemotherapy, depending on the cancer stage.
Most ovarian cancers develop after menopause, but younger women are not exempt. About one-third of women who get ovarian cancer are younger than 55. About 1 in 10 ovarian cancers are in women younger than 45 (https://wb.md/3vmOqok). It’s important for women of all ages to see their OB-GYN for an annual exam and to discuss any unusual symptoms. Like all cancers, the earlier it’s caught, the better the prognosis.
– Cherokee Women’s Health Specialists, PC has six OB-GYNs and five midlevel providers, with offices in Canton and Woodstock.