Everything You Need To Know About Ovarian Cancer Awareness

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a time dedicated to the research and progress on this mysterious disease. Ovarian cancer is when cancerous cells develop in or around one or both ovaries. It is a leading cause of cancer-related death in American women, despite only 1.2% of women being diagnosed in their lifetime. This is in large part because this form of cancer has few to no symptoms until its late stages.

When symptoms of ovarian cancer appear, they can often be mistakenly associated with other health conditions. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include bloating, pelvic pain, feeling full quickly, abnormal vaginal bleeding, and urinary symptoms. There are many types of ovarian cancer in adults; knowing the early signs can allow early detection, which can be life-saving.

Epithelial ovarian cancer: This is cancerous tissue that covers the outside of the ovary, sometimes spreading to the fallopian tubes. Not all ovarian tumors are cancer; most are benign. Cancerous epithelial tumors are the most common, making up over 85% of ovarian cancers.

Germ cell ovarian cancer: These tumors begin to form in the cells that produce the eggs, or ova. Like epithelial tumors, these are usually not cancerous. However, in cases where germ cell tumors are malignant, about 90% of cases are cured and women are able to keep their fertility intact.

Small-cell carcinoma: This form of ovarian cancer is extremely rare and malignant, and it most often affects younger women. Symptoms of small-cell carcinoma are consistent with those of other types of ovarian cancers.

Stromal cell ovarian cancer: A rare type of tumor that spreads to the connective tissue of the ovary, stromal cell tumors are usually less aggressive.

Screening for ovarian cancer can be difficult because every woman’s ovarian cancer behaves differently; symptoms, survival rates, and treatment plans vary case by case. The most accurate testing includes your doctor’s performing a thorough pelvic exam (with images of the pelvis if possible) as well as blood tests.

For those with a family history of ovarian cancer or those over the age of 65, regular screening is important for early detection; the five-year survival rate of ovarian cancer is over 90% in cases that are identified and treated in their early stages. If you are experiencing symptoms or fit the criteria for early screening, talk to your OB-GYN about your options.

If you would like to learn more about ovarian cancer or you have any questions, please contact us at PWOG today. We would be happy to help you find a gynecologist in the San Francisco area or to assist with anything you need.

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