September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and though our blog mainly focuses on breast health, we don’t want the month to end without recognizing the importance of ovarian cancer. While not as common as breast cancer (ovarian is the 10th leading cause of cancer in women), it is deadlier, with no change in mortality from ovarian cancer over the past 4 decades as there has been for other cancers.
The links between breast and ovarian health are evident, especially in terms of things like the BRCA gene mutation. If either of these cancers run in your family, you are at increased risk for both.
In very recent news, there's hope for the future of early detection of ovarian cancer. A study published in the journal Cancer expounds upon research done several years ago, showing encouraging results when it comes to detecting ovarian cancer in women.
For a long time, the dark cloud over ovarian cancer is how difficult it is to detect. This means more ovarian cancers are found at later stages. There is no version of a “mammogram” like we have for breast health for ovarian cancer. Furthermore, its symptoms overlap with other conditions, small and large, making it difficult to diagnose. Pain, bloating, things that are easily dismissed - ovarian cancer symptoms are frustratingly nonspecific.
The new study brings hope because it showed promise in diagnosis by examining changes over time in a marker in your blood as opposed to a one-time evaluation (as was previously the norm). The changes are useful for deciding which women need imaging with ultrasound or other testing. This is a bright light of hope in the pursuit of healing of a disease with a dismal prognosis.
For more information on the A-Z of ovarian cancer, a comprehensive and readable breakdown of the facts can be found here.
Educate yourself for greater health and spread the word - together we want to move towards a better outlook for women with ovarian cancer!
Originally published 9/24/13 on mammographykc.com.