5 Facts You Should Know About Ovarian Cancer

ovarian cancer ribbonOctober 9, 2012 we lost a beautiful soul to Ovarian Cancer.  Tara Fuller, your mom inspired us all with her perpetual smile and fortitude. This will be the third time 12 Oaks Dental is supporting the Austin NOCC 5K. Ovarian cancer is a relatively rare but deadly disease.  We are Breaking the Silence! We are sponsoring and participating in honor of Virginia Pearson and all the victims and warriors of ovarian cancer.

Top 5 Things Women Should Know About Ovarian Cancer (adapted from livescience website)

1) Overall, 1 in 72 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime.

2) The single greatest risk factor for developing ovarian cancer is a family history of the disease, like a mother or sister.

3) A woman’s risk of ovarian cancer seems to increase with the number of times over her life that she ovulates.

4) Symptoms are similar to more common conditions, like digestive problems.

5) There are no effective screening tests to detect ovarian cancer.

The Numbers

Ovarian cancer is a relatively rare, but deadly, cancer. The National Cancer Institute estimates 22,280 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and 15,500 women will die of the disease. (For comparison, the NCI estimates that 226,870 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 39,510 women will die of that disease this year.) Overall, 1 in 72 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer during their lifetime.

Ovarian cancer is more often diagnosed in white women than in women of other races. In the U.S., there are 13.4 cases diagnosed yearly for every 100,000 white women, 11.3 cases per 100,000 Hispanic women, and 9.8 cases per 100,000 black or Asian women.

The 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is around 44 percent, but the survival rate varies greatly with the stage of diagnosis. According to the NCI, 91.5 percent of patients diagnosed before the cancer has spread survive at least five years, whereas only 26.9 percent of those diagnosed after the cancer has spread to other sites in the body survive five years.

Risk Factors

The single greatest risk factor for developing ovarian cancer is a family history of the disease, according to the NCI. A woman’s risk of the disease triples if she has at least one first-degree relative (a mother, daughter or sister) with ovarian cancer.

One reason that risk tends to run in families is that certain families may have mutated versions of the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. These mutations raise a woman’s risk of ovarian cancer: 15 to 40 percent of women who have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer over the course of their lifetime, whereas 1.4 percent of women in the general population will be diagnosed. Women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations typically develop ovarian cancer before age 50.

Still, 85 to 90 percent of ovarian cancer cases have no clear genetic link.  Fertility drugs, hormone replacement therapy after menopause, and obesity have also been linked with an increased risk of the disease. In general, a woman’s risk of the disease rises with age.

A woman’s risk of ovarian cancer seems to increase with the number of times over her life that she ovulates.  Pregnancy, breast-feeding and birth control pills all temporarily halt ovulation, and studies have linked all of those factors to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer.

Symptoms

One of the reasons ovarian cancer is difficult to detect in its early states is that its symptoms are similar to those of other, more-common conditions, like digestive problems.

Here are some symptoms of ovarian cancer:

  • Abdominal pressure, fullness or bloating
  • Pelvic discomfort or pain
  • Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
  • Changes in bladder or bowel habits, such as constipation or a frequent need to urinate
  • Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
  • Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
  • A persistent lack of energy

In ovarian cancer, symptoms tend to last longer and worsen over time.

Screening tests

No screening test has proved to be effective in detecting ovarian cancer. Pelvic exams conducted by doctors may include a check of the ovaries, but these often don’t catch tumors until they have grown large.

Now that you know about ovarian cancer.  Help us Break the Silence and support 12 Oaks Dental at the NOCC 5K this August 10, 2013. The race is located at the Domain in Northwest Austin.

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