Friday, September 9, 2011

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. And unlike breast cancer, there are no routine screening tests. Each year in the United States, more than 21,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 15,000 women die of the disease.One of those diagnosed this year is fellow HCRW and TWRP author Heather McCollum

You can join Heather in her fight against ovarian cancer at

Ovarian cancer is the 5th most common cancer among women.
The cause is unknown.
Some possible risk factors include:
Having no children or few children later in life.
Certain genes defects (BRCA1 and BRCA2) are responsible for a small number of ovarian cancer cases. Women who've had breast cancer or a family history of breast or ovarian cancer have an increased risk for ovarian cancer.
Women who take estrogen replacement only (not with progesterone) for 5 years or more seem to have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. Birth control pills, however, decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.(But can increase the risk of breast cancer.)

Older women are at highest risk for developing ovarian cancer. Most deaths from ovarian cancer occur in women age 55 and older but women in their twenties can also get ovarian cancer. It doesn't discriminate against age.


Ovarian cancer symptoms are not overt. That's why it is known as the Silent Whisper. Often, the cancer isn't diagnosed until the cancer has spread beyond the ovaries because the symptoms are missed altogether or miss diagnosed.

See your doctor if you have the following symptoms on a daily basis for more than a few weeks:
  • Bloating- abdominal tightness, enlargement, or consistent tenderness.
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly.
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
Other symptoms can also inclued:
  • Abnormal menstrual cycles
  • Constipation, increased gas, indigestion.
  • Pelvic heaviness
  • Swollen abdomen or belly
  • Unexplained back pain that worsens over time
  • bleeding between periods.
  • lower abdominal discomfort
  • Weight changes

A physical examination may reveal a swollen abdomen and fluid in the abdominal. A pelvic examination may reveal an ovarian mass.
A CA-125 blood test is not a screening test but it can be used if a woman:
  • Has symptoms of ovarian cancer
  • Has already been diagnosed with ovarian cancer to determine how well treatment is working
Other tests that may be done include:
  • Complete blood count and blood chemistry
  • Pregnancy test (serum HCG)
  • CT or MRI of the pelvis or abdomen
  • Ultrasound of the pelvis
Laparoscopic surgery can also be done to evaluate symptoms and take samples for biopsy. There are no lab tests or imaging test that will diagnose ovarian cancer in its early stages.


Surgery removal of the uterus, ovaries, tubes. Or surgical removal of both ovaries and tubes.
Partial or complete removal of the fatty layer that covers the abdomen and it's organs.
Women who have had there ovaries removed could still get ovarian cancer if ovarian cancer cells are in the omentum (fatty layer) of the abdomen.
  • Examination, biopsy, or removal of the lymph nodes and other tissues in the pelvis and abdomen
Surgery performed by a specialist in female reproductive cancer has been shown to result in a higher success rate.
Chemotherapy treatments are given after surgery and again if the cancer returns. 

For more information on ovarian cancer or to donate, please go to

Another way to support ovarian cancer research and awareness is to read an Avon Book. I don't write for Avon, but I love some of their authors. Check out there Kiss and Teal link:


  1. Oh my. Thoughts and prayers with Heather. Our family has been hit hard with cancer this last year, though not this particular one. I pray it stays that way. A lot of those symptoms you named can occur with other conditions too, making it even more difficult to detect. For example, I often have considerable gut discomfort, etc, from chronic IBs which I'm seeing a specialist about next week.

  2. My thoughts and prayers to Heather. My mother is an Ovarian cancer patient and my doctor HAS used the CA-125 as a screening on me 1) to establish my "normal" numbers and 2) to see if my numbers have come up.
    Another thing daughters of Ovarian Cancer can do it - if your mother is still living - have her take the DNA test to see if she carries the muted gene that causes Ovarian Cancer. My mother did and she does not carry it -- so it does give hope to me and my daughters that the hereditary factor has been taken out. Mom's cancer is one of those cases doctors can't explain. The only criteria she fits is her age.
    My mother is in remission now and she's a true survivor. Never give up hope. She was way into Stage 4 when they found it. It took almost 18 months of chemo/radiation, but she's doing well.
    My best to all.

  3. Beth, I too have IBS so I hear what you're saying. That's what's so scary about ovarian cancer. Doctors often don't diagnose it in time because the symptoms mimic so many other conditions.

    Cancer is an insidious disease no matter the organ it strikes. So many factors affect it. And heredity doesn't always play a part. I am a breast cancer survivor but I do not have the "breast cancer gene." Like you, I hope that means my daughters are safe. Then again, where did my cancer come from if I have no family history and no cancer gene? Seriously, I blame all the carcinogens in our environment. I'm not really an environmentalist. There are some pollutants that can't be avoided and I really think Mother Nature has a way of dealing with them. But--some of the crap we pump into our air and streams ARE destroying our world.

    Heather is blogging about her fight against ovarian cancer at and she loves hearing survival stories. I know she'd love hearing your mother's story, Jennifer.

    Thanks for stopping by ladies.

  4. I don't have any family members who've suffered ovarian cancer. My mother in-law died from another type. But I had a total hysterectomy in 2000 due to tumors on both ovaries. My dr had me screened- CA125- and it came back negative. I was relieved but still had to have the surgery. Now I read your post and all my previous comfort thoughts that I'm safe from ovarian or cervical cancer have fled. I may still be at risk? I hate that I don't feel 'safe' anymore. But I am so thankful for you letting me know that I'm not safe, that it was a false bubble I was living in these past 11 years. I know to take care and beware!

    Prayers and good thoughts to Heather and Jennifer's mother and anyone else who needs them.

  5. I had a total hysterectomy in 2004. A partial hysterectomy where only the ovaries are removed still leaves a minimal chance of cancer cells being in the omentum. If you had a total hysterectomy and oophorectomy,then the doctors took your uterus, your fallopian tubes, your ovaries, and quite possibly your cervix. I don't even have a cervix. Which is fine. I've had kids and do NOT miss having periods.

    I add my prayers to yours Calisa.

  6. Yes. They 'took everything' cervix included on me. My sister had a partial (kept one ovary to avoid estrogen substitutes) when she had a bleeding problem that had gone on near six months straight due to uterine issues. I now suffer the dreaded hot flashes and misery because last August my dr also took me off estrogen treatment. Grrr.

  7. More scary news: estrogen can increase your risk of breast cancer. I never took the supplements and got breast cancer anyway. Irony? Or sh*t happens? Oddly, since the hysterectomy, I've had fewer migraines and seldom have hot flashes. Then again, I have put on quite a few pounds...But I no longer have monthly bloating. Life's a trade-off sometimes.

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