What You Need to Know About Ovarian Cancer

Every 23 minutes, a woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States. Ovarian
cancer kills 14,000 women a year, and yet, what could you tell me about ovarian cancer? What
does the majority of the population know about ovarian cancer? Not enough. Ovarian cancer is
cancer that begins in the ovaries; it can also spread to other areas of the body. It ranks 5th in
cancer deaths amongst women. Clearly, it’s time that we educated ourselves on the symptoms
of ovarian cancer and the preventative measures that we can take today to protect ourselves
and our loved ones for the future.
Let’s start with the symptoms. Bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full
quickly, feeling the need to urinate more frequently, fatigue, upset stomach, back pain, pain
during sex, constipation, and changes in your menstrual cycle are all common symptoms of
ovarian cancer. Now think back to your last period; how many of these symptoms did you
experience? Only 15% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at stage 1, in good portion because
many women assume these symptoms are connected to their menstrual cycle. Even if they are
experiencing common menstrual symptoms irregular to their own cycle, they rarely report these
changes to their doctor.
So what can you do to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer?
1. Be conscious of your menstrual cycle and the symptoms that typically accompany your
period every month. If a major change occurs in your menstrual cycle or you start to
experience new symptoms, don’t be afraid to consult your doctor. You know your body
best, and therefore, you are the one who will be able to spot these symptoms earlier.
2. Pregnancy and breastfeeding also reduce your risk of ovarian cancer. Please note,
however, that becoming pregnant in order to reduce your risk of ovarian cancer is not
recommended. Taking oral contraceptive (birth control) actually reduces your risk of
developing ovarian cancer. The longer you take birth control consistently, the less at risk
you will be. Use of oral contraceptives for 5 years or more can reduce your risk by 50%.
Talk to your doctor today about your options for oral contraceptives.
3. Do not use products containing talcum powder on or near your genitals. Studies have
found a link between ovarian cancer and the use of talcum powder that is causing a
great deal of concern. For more information, check out this page on talcum powder and
ovarian cancer.
4. Know your family’s history of both breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Genetic mutations
such as BRCA1 and BRCA2 increase your risk for both cancers. A Pap test does not
detect ovarian cancer, so if you feel that you are likely to develop ovarian cancer due to
your family’s medical history, ask your doctor to test for these genetic mutations.
September 1st marks the beginning of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Make it a priority to
see your doctor if you have concerns about your family’s medical history and the possibility of
developing ovarian cancer. Share this important information with your mother, daughters,
sisters, and friends so that they too will understand the dangers of ovarian cancer and
implement these preventative actions in their lives. Awareness is key in protecting yourself and
loved ones against the dangers of ovarian cancer!

About the author of this post: 

Caitlin Hoff uses her background in Industrial Design and her passion for health and wellness to educate consumers on a great number of health products and topics. As a Health & Safety Investigator for ConsumerSafety.org, Caitlin strives to embolden consumers with the knowledge to make smart decisions affecting their personal health and that of their families.

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