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Ovarian Cancer: It Whispers, So Listen

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women. The disease was historically referred to as a “silent killer” because it was thought that symptoms were not evident until the disease was in an advanced stage. The fact is, however, that symptoms often do exist in the early stages of ovarian cancer. A woman’s strongest defense against this disease is merely to “listen” to her body and be attuned to changes. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are not specific to the disease and are often similar to other more common conditions. Symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal change, loss of appetite, vomiting or changes in bowel habits. We all have bloating and a poor appetite at times, but if symptoms are persistent and out of the ordinary, it’s a key indication that there may be a deeper issue. At this time, there are not any recommended screening tests for ovarian cancer that we can use as an early detection tool. I’m often asked by patients why I can’t just give them an ultrasound. But so far no studies have shown that an ultrasound is beneficial in the diagnosis of this deadly disease. For women who have a strong family history of ovarian cancer, it may be recommended to get genetic testing to check for gene mutations. A woman's risk of developing breast and/or ovarian cancer is greatly increased if she inherits a mutation in the BRCA1 gene or the BRCA2 gene. You may recall hearing about the BRCA gene in the news several months ago after actress Angelina Jolie announced that she had the gene mutation and opted to have a preventative double mastectomy to minimize her risks for breast cancer. Thousands of women are diagnosed with a gynecological cancer every year. In 2013, more than 22,240 women are expected to be diagnosed with ovarian cancer – knowing the facts could save your life! If you’d like to learn more about ovarian cancer, I’ll be discussing this topic at an upcoming free seminar at Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women. You will also hear a brief presentation on uterine cancer by one of my Baylor OB/GYN colleagues and a guest panelist who will share her inspiring story of surviving ovarian cancer. Be a Cancer Survivor: What You Need to Know About Gynecologic Cancer Tuesday, September 24, 2013 – 6:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Texas Children’s Pavilion for Women 4th Floor, Conference Education Center Reserve your seat now! Limited seating is available.