National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is observed every September. UHAPO Healthcare Services purpose is to raise awareness about ovarian cancer, educate people about the risks and symptoms associated with the disease, and promote early detection and prevention efforts. Ovarian cancer is often called the “silent killer” because it can be challenging to detect in its early stages when it can be most treatable.
Signs and Symptoms
Ovarian cancer can develop and spread throughout the abdomen before it shows any signs of symptoms. This makes ovarian cancer difficult to detect in its early stages when it can be controlled and treated effectively.
The most common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer include –
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Changes in eating habits such as getting full early or losing your appetite
- Abnormal bleeding or vaginal discharge especially if bleeding occurs outside of the normal menstrual cycle
- Feeling bloated
- Pain in the stomach or back area
- Frequent urination
- Bowel movements causing diarrhea or constipation
Several risk factors have been identified that may increase a person’s likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Having one or more risk factors does not guarantee that an individual will develop ovarian cancer. Here are some common ovarian cancer risk factors –
- Family History of ovarian, breast, or colorectal cancer can increase the risk.
- Inherited Gene Mutations
- Personal history of cancer
- Hormone replacement therapy
- Reproductive factors such as childbearing or infertility
- Menstrual history, where women started menstruating at an early age (before 12) or experienced menopause at a later age (after age 52).
Many women who develop ovarian cancer have no identifiable risk factors. Regular check-ups, awareness of the common symptoms of ovarian cancer, and discussing risk factors with a healthcare provider are essential for early detection and appropriate management of health.
Teal Ribbon Awareness
The Teal Ribbon is the symbol of awareness for ovarian cancer. The Teal is the designated color for ovarian cancer awareness, and the ribbon serves as a visual representation of the cause.
During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in September and throughout the year, people are encouraged to wear teal ribbons or clothing to show support for ovarian cancer awareness.
In this Teal Ribbon Awareness Month, we spark conversation about the disease by –
- Sharing information about ovarian cancer, its symptoms, risk factors, and the importance of early detection on social media platforms.
- Providing support to those affected by ovarian cancer, including patients, survivors, and their families. It’s a way of letting them know they are not alone in their battle.
- Working to educate policymakers and the public about the need for increased funding for ovarian cancer research and improved healthcare access for patients.
- Awareness campaigns that provide emotional support to those affected by ovarian cancer, including patients, survivors, and their families.
- Sharing personal stories and experiences using the Teal Ribbon as a symbol of hope and strength.
Prevention and Risk Reduction
While there is no surefire way to prevent ovarian cancer entirely, there are several strategies and risk reduction measures that may help lower the risk of developing this disease. It’s important to note that these strategies may not guarantee prevention but can contribute to reducing the risk. Here are some key prevention and risk reduction measures for ovarian cancer –
Oral Contraceptives (Birth Control Pills) – Long-term use of oral contraceptives (birth control pills) can reduce the risk of ovarian cancer.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding – Women who have been pregnant and given birth to at least one child have a lower risk of ovarian cancer.
Healthy Lifestyle Choices – Regular physical activity may reduce the risk of ovarian cancer. In addition to that, you should have a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains while limiting processed foods, red meat, and saturated fats. Also, a reduction in alcohol intake and quitting smoking can significantly reduce the risk of certain cancers.
Regular Check-ups and Pelvic Exams – Regular check-ups with your healthcare provider can really help to monitor your overall health and discuss any concerning symptoms or risk factors.
Genetic Testing and Counseling
If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or known genetic mutations (e.g., BRCA1 and BRCA2), consider genetic counseling and testing. Knowing your genetic risk can help inform your healthcare decisions.
Importance of Early Detection
Early detection of ovarian cancer is critically important because it can significantly improve the prognosis and outcomes for individuals diagnosed with the disease. When ovarian cancer is diagnosed at an early, localized stage (Stage I or II), the chances of successful treatment and long-term survival are significantly higher.
The 5-year survival rate for women diagnosed at this stage is much better than for those diagnosed at advanced stages. Early detection can also lead to a better quality of life for ovarian cancer survivors. It reduces the need for repeated and aggressive treatments, thus minimizing the impact of the disease on daily life. It is easily treatable with surgery, and in some cases, chemotherapy may be necessary. The options for treatment are broader and less aggressive when the cancer is confined to the ovaries or nearby tissues.
Given the lack of routine screening tests for ovarian cancer, it’s crucial for individuals to be proactive about their health. Women should be aware of the common symptoms associated with ovarian cancer mentioned above. If any of these symptoms persist for more than a few weeks or worsen, it is essential to consult a healthcare professional promptly for further evaluation and diagnostic testing.
Spread the Word
By actively spreading the word about ovarian cancer through educational posts, social media platforms, and community outreach we can help educate the public, raise funds for research, and ultimately contribute to improved outcomes for those affected by this disease. Every effort counts in the fight against ovarian cancer.
Resources and Support
If you or someone you know is affected by ovarian cancer, there are numerous resources and support networks available to provide information, emotional support, and assistance such as –
- Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance (OCRA) – OCRA is a leading organization dedicated to advancing ovarian cancer research and raising awareness. They provide resources, support, and advocacy opportunities. Website link – https://ocrahope.org/
- National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) – NOCC offers a range of support services, educational resources, and local chapter networks to help those affected by ovarian cancer. Website link – https://www.ovarian.org/
- Ovarian Cancer National Alliance – This organization advocates for policies that support ovarian cancer patients and provides information and resources for those dealing with the disease. Website link – https://www.ovariancancer.org/
- Foundation for Women’s Cancer – They offer educational materials, support programs, and resources for ovarian cancer patients and their families. Website link : https://www.foundationforwomenscancer.org/