Friday, September 23, 2005

National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

The eloquent cancerbaby has devoted a post to the early signs of ovarian cancer, screening/diagnostic methods, and the importance of being a strong advocate for yourself when you have symptoms that haven't been fully explained. Yes, it's National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Go read cancerbaby's post—I mean it, go read it all right now—and then come back here and click on the link up there on the right if you'd like to support ovarian cancer research and education.

If your doctor suspects ovarian cancer, there are two important things to know, cancerbaby says: First, don't consent to a biopsy, as a biopsy can inadvertently spread ovarian cancer cells within your body. Second, if you need surgery, insist on referral to a gynecologic oncologist who is specially trained in treating ovarian cancer, and don't settle for a regular gynecologist or a general surgeon.

1 comment:

DoctorMama said...

Cancerbaby has a lot of excellent things to say. The NOCC site is also very good, and thanks for providing the link to donate.
I would like to add that ovarian cancer is very very rare among young women with no family history, and that there usually are no early warning signs. In retrospect, after a woman has been diagnosed, there are often things that may have been related to the cancer, but then again, they may not have. I don't like to see women beat themselves up over having missed "symptoms" or over not insisting on certain tests from their doctor, when they didn't do anything wrong. Right now, there are no good screening tests for ovarian cancer. Diagnosis is tricky, let alone screening. (CA-125 is not actually a screening test -- but that's another topic.) As a doctor, I would love it if there were good tests. And I feel awful for people struggling with this -- one of the doctors in my group just died from ovarian cancer. But I hope that young women who are at very low risk won't worry about this, or about any of the terrible but rare things that may befall them. (I say this as a reformed worrier myself.) I'd rather they worried about quitting smoking and wearing their seatbelts -- things that are (almost) entirely within their control and that have an enormous impact on their chances of having long and happy lives.
I do apologize for the overly long blog highjack.