September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month: Reduce your cancer risk

September 6, 2021 By Royal Examiner

Women have options to reduce of risk of ovarian cancer through lifestyle and awareness.

According to the National Institutes of Health, epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death among gynecologic cancers and the fourth leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. The American Cancer Society estimates that about 21,000 women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis in 2021, while almost 14,000 will die from the disease.

Who is at risk?
According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, any woman is at risk, but certain factors may increase that risk, including obesity, childbirth later in life or never having a full-term pregnancy, hormone replacement therapy, family history, previous breast cancer, genetic mutations, prior fertility treatments, and smoking.

How can I decrease my risk?
If family history or previous cancers increase your risk for ovarian cancer, develop a plan with your doctor. Sometimes. removing the ovaries is the best way to eliminate risk. For women who still want to have children, childbirth and breastfeeding reduce risk. For those who want to delay childbirth, taking birth control can help.

What are the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer?
Early detection is critical for successful treatment, but there is no standard screening or test to detect ovarian cancer, according to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. Keep your family history in mind and be aware of possible symptoms, including unusual bloating, abdominal pain, difficulty eating or sudden fullness, frequent urination, digestive discomfort (including heartburn, upset stomach, and constipation), back pain, fatigue, menstrual changes, or painful intercourse.

If these symptoms persist for two weeks even with normal interventions like exercise or dietary changes, contact your doctor immediately. Read more HERE.

Black women with advanced epithelial ovarian cancer were more likely to die than white women. Black women were less likely than white women to receive guideline-recommended care and women who did not receive recommended treatment had lower survival than women who received recommended care.

Howell, Elizabeth A et al. “Racial disparities in the treatment of advanced epithelial ovarian cancer.” Obstetrics and gynecology vol. 122,5 (2013): 1025-1032. doi:10.1097/AOG.0b013e3182a92011
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