Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Join the battle against ovarian cancer

This Saturday morning, I'll be participating in the Walk for the Whisper to raise money for ovarian cancer awareness and research.

I have an aunt with advanced ovarian cancer. She had a heightened index of suspicion for ovarian cancer, since her own mother had died of the disease in the 1960s. She had regular medical examinations, hoping to detect the cancer early if it struck. The state of the art for ovarian cancer screening, however, is terrible. Because there is no reliable way to detect ovarian cancer early (when it is more treatable), many cases have already reached an advanced stage before diagnosis. This was the case for my aunt. She's been battling the disease, and coping with the side effects of treatment, for over two years now, and unfortunately, remission seems unlikely.

My aunt's daughter—my cousin—faces an increased risk of ovarian cancer because of her family history of the disease. Even preventive removal of the ovaries doesn't eliminate the cancer risk, so regular screening and vigilant attention to vague symptoms will remain important for my cousin.

What's also important is an increase in funding for research—to find ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat ovarian cancer—and for awareness—the symptoms tend to be vague, and they don't seem obviously related to the reproductive organs:

· Pelvic or abdominal pain or discomfort
· Vague, but persistent gastrointestinal upsets such as gas, nausea, and indigestion
· Frequency and/or urgency of urination in absence of an infection
· Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
· Pelvic and/or abdominal swelling, bloating and/or feeling of fullness
· Ongoing unusual fatigue
· Unexplained changes in bowel habits

If you're a woman, you have symptoms like these that persist for longer than 4 to 6 weeks, and the symptoms don't resolve with normal interventions (e.g., laxatives, diet change, rest), see your physician for a thorough rectovaginal exam so he or she can assess your ovaries.

If you can afford it, please donate here (fill in a donation amount and click "continue") to sponsor me in the Walk for the Whisper. I'm hoping to raise at least $250 in the next few days. Donate for yourself, for your wife, for your sister, for your daughter, for your friends. Thank you.


DoctorMama said...


Orange said...

Many thanks, Doc!

Mignon said...

Good for you Orange. Best wishes for your aunt and cousin too. (heading over to the link now...)

E. said...

Good work for a great cause, Orange. I'd be honored to pitch in.

Orange said...

Thank you, ladies! The ovaries of the world salute you.

amusing said...

Thanks for highlighting this. I'm appalled at the state of women's healthcare. Had HPV issues and kept getting conflicting info (plus, just like the current ad campaign, I had never heard of it before!). Have strange bleeding issues the docs seem flummoxed by and not particularly interested in. Had two "advance maternal age" pregnancies and was surprised by lack of info there as well. Yet, the men manage to find funding for their penile and baldness issues! Good luck to your relatives. I will think positive thoughts (and find some cash in the budget to donate).

Orange said...

Thanks, amusing!

drfcshk said...

During the cancer diagnosis doctors look for the site of origin of the tumor and the type of cells. Cancers arise in any organ. The body site, where cancer develops first, is the primary site. The spreads (metastasizes) then. Common cancers include skin, lungs, breasts, prostate, colon and uterine tumors. There are many signs and symptoms of cancer. Doctors may find tumors directly, by X-ray or MRI imaging, or through lab tests.

However, these signs and symptoms of cancer may mimic other diseases. Weight loss and abdominal pain may mean stomach cancer or an ulcer. Weight loss and swollen lymph nodes may mean lymphoma or AIDS or tuberculosis. Blood in urine is a sign of bladder or kidney cancer or a kidney infection. Blood in stool is a sign of many bowel problems, not just cancer. Benign looking skin mole may be deadly melanoma. Doctors often need a biopsy (microscopic check of tissues samples) to diagnose cancer. The cancer type is found by microscopic examination. If the type is different from surrounding tissue, the cancer came from another primary site. Metastases can spread directly or through blood vessels, and lymphatic vessels. Biopsy helps to find the primary site. Treatment also depends on the cancer cell type. Cells could be more or less differentiated and originate from different layers of the same organ. If the cancer cells resemble healthy, mature cells, they are differentiated. Undifferentiated cells look like very immature primitive cells. Checking the differentiation allows doctors to know how aggressive the cancer is. Grade one cancer is less aggressive than grade four usually.

Also doctors classify cancers by stage. Stage depends on the size and spreading of the tumor. Stage determines the mode of treatment - Whether it is surgical, radiation, chemotherapy and so on. RDoctor.com.