By: Shelagh McNally for Uterus1
It’s good news for almost everyone according to the 2005 National Cancer Institute report. Overall the risk of death from cancer has lowered – all except for ovarian cancer. The death rate for this disease has not changed in 50 years. In fact, ovarian cancer remains the fourth leading cause of death for women in the U.S and the American Cancer Society estimates there will be 22,220 new cases and 16,210 deaths in 2005.
| Know the early warning signs for ovarian cancer: |
Abdominal or pelvic pressure, discomfort or pain
Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
Feeling full even after a light meal
Unexplained changes in bowel habits, including diarrhea or constipation
Abdominal swelling or bloating, which can cause your clothing to feel tight
Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent or urgent need to urinate
Loss of appetite
Unexplained weight loss or gain, especially in the abdominal area
Pain during intercourse
Less common signs include a persistent lack of energy and low back pain
“Women must not be lulled into a false sense of security when it comes to this deadliest of gynecologic cancers,” commented Sherry Salway Black, Executive Director of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance. All women are at risk, especially those with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
Early detection is the key to survival but unfortunately ovarian cancer is often found too late. Symptoms are often vague and tend to mimic those of digestive and urinary disorders. By the time the symptoms stop being indistinct the cancer is usually advanced. The most common type epithelial ovarian cancer, causes tumors to develop from the cells covering the outer surface of the ovary. It has a survival rate of less than 20 percent since it is usually found so late. Ovarian germ cell tumors, developing from cells that produce the eggs (ova), is usually caught in the early stages with 90 percent of patients recovering.
Unfortunately there are few tests available for early detection. Pap Smears will not uncover it so most doctors rely on pelvic and rectal examination to find any abnormalities. An ultrasound may show any developing tumors, although its accuracy in detecting early stages is poor. The Ovarian Pap test is a new diagnostic tool using a laparoscopy to look at the ovaries and collect surface cells for testing. The CA125 blood test measures sugar protein, often higher than normal in women with ovarian cancer. Again this test is not useful in detecting the early stages. Other blood tests include testing for serum and plasma markers also present in women with advanced stages of ovarian cancer.
In September 2005, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) started a clinical trial to develop an accurate protein blood test to detect the early stages of ovarian cancer. The trial will enroll 400 women who have advanced-stage ovarian cancer and have completed their initial chemotherapy. “We will want to harness all of the protein information in the patients’ blood samples searching for leads on how to detect ovarian cancer at an early stage when it can be most effectively treated,” said lead investigator Dr. Elise Kohn.
Another study published in the December 12 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine found a possible connection between drinking tea and lower rates of ovarian cancer. Susanna C. Larsson and Alicja Wolk, at Stockholm’s National Institute of Environmental Medicine, Karolinska Institute looked at 61,057 participants in the Swedish Mammography Cohort study. Sixty-eight percent of the women said they drank tea (some green but mostly black) at least once a month. After 15 years of follow-up, 301 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “We found a lower risk of ovarian cancer associated with greater tea consumption,” Larsson said. Women who drank at least two cups of tea a day reduced their risk of developing ovarian cancer by 46 percent.
If you enjoyed this article, you might also be interested in the following:
“Peek and Shriek” Ovarian Cancer Surgeries Unnecessary Says Latest Research
Resistant Ovarian Cancer Responds to Aspirin Derivative
Moderate Exercise May Help Prevent Ovarian Cancer
Blood Test Helps Detect Ovarian Cancer Earlier