By Shree Agrawal
This month, AWS is focusing on ovarian cancer awareness. But really, why does all of this matter? Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from a gynecologic malignancy, affecting thousands of women each year–most commonly, among women who are 60 years or older.
Unsurprisingly, diagnosing ovarian cancer at an earlier stage strongly correlates with improved disease outcomes. While pap smears and breast examinations are screening tools commonly expected during a gynecologic exam, screening for ovarian cancer specifically is less obvious.
A thorough workup should be initiated within the context of any symptoms of pelvic or abdominal pain, increased abdominal size or abdominal bloating, urinary urgency/frequency, and early satiety. In addition a thorough physical exam, some additional tests may include CA-125 levels and/or pelvic ultrasonography. Regardless, everyone’s experience with prevention, screening, and potential intervention is a personal decision.
Some talking points to bring up with your physician:
- Consider discussing genetic testing or speaking with a genetic counselor, if you have a significant personal or family history.
- Routine check-ups with a pelvic exam are essential for early detection, prior to symptom development.
- Do not be afraid to get something checked out.
- Sometimes it feels easy to brush something off as a minor or silly concern. If the thought keeps popping up in the back of your mind, what’s the harm in getting it looked out? An hour lost, a few moments spent scheduling, a small amount of emotional energy spent with worry, anxiety, and nervousness?
- Don’t wait, just do it.
Resources for you and your loved ones:
Treatment Guidelines for Ovarian Cancer
Shree is a third year medical student at Case Western Reserve University, where she also completed her bachelors of science degree in biology. Prior to medical school, she performed prostate cancer research at the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals of Cleveland. Shree is passionate about clinical research surrounding patient decision-making and medical education. In her free time she enjoys blogging for the AWS blog, practicing yoga, and boxing.
Our blog is a forum for our members to speak, and as such, statements made here represent the opinions of the author, and are not necessarily the opinion of the Association of Women Surgeons.