Ovarian Cancer

by Lisa on August 27, 2008

As someone who is battling ovarian cancer for the third time I feel an obligation to tell you more about the disease. You can read more about my story here.

Ovarian cancer is often called the Silent Killer, because it’s symptoms often mock other illnesses.

Ovarian cancer has it’s own tagline…It Whispers, So Listen , because it’s symptoms mock other illnesses, women so often ignore them. In some cases, like mine, the medical community can dismiss or misdiagnose the illness.

The most important thing I cannot express enough is to be your own advocate.  If you have the symptoms that I list below and you feel that something is wrong, then pursue it until you get ANSWERS!  I am a classic example of what happens when symptoms are ignored or dismissed by the medical community.

I thank God for organizations like the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance who supported a consensus statement last year (2007) formed by the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists and the American Cancer Society on Ovarian Cancer.

The statement is as follows:

Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population. These symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.

Credit:  Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

Although the medical community is working on a test for ovarian cancer, currently the only way to detect whether or not you may have the disease is by pelvic exam, CT scan, MRI or the CA125 tumor marker. The CA125 tumor marker is a blood test but not a fool-proof blood test. It can often give a false-positive result. Please talk to a gynecologist or a gynecology/oncologist for more information.

For more information on Ovarian Cancer I highly recommend these websites:

Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

National Cancer Institute

Johns Hopkins Ovarian Cancer Website

American Cancer Society

Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation

Gilda’s Club

CancerCare (Thanks Karl!)

Teal Talk

If you have any questions about my personal experience with Ovarian Cancer, then please contact me at [email protected]