Ovarian Cancer is among the deadliest of cancers that affect women. Approximately 21,880 women are diagnosed annually and in 2010 it is projected that 13,850 women in the US will lose their lives as a result. The reason for this high number of deaths from ovarian cancer is that many women either do not seek out medical help until it is in its late stage or it is can be misdiagnosed. If detected early the five year survival rate is more than 93%. Key for women is that they know the four classic symptoms that have been associated with ovarian cancer. These symptoms can be signs of other less life threatening health problems, which are bloating, pelvic/abdominal pain, difficulty in eating or feeling full faster than previous and urinary urgency, but they should not be avoided if they are persistent (more than 2-3 weeks). Other symptoms are nausea, gas, constipation or diarrhea, fatigue, and backaches.
There are several diagnostic test to help evaluate your symptoms. An abdominal examination by your practitioner to check for discomfort, tenderness or abnormal fluid along with a pelvic examination is one of the first steps. Your practitioner can order a blood test called a CA-125, which if the level is high may also indicate ovarian cancer or other conditions. There are additional test that can be requested as well. Two other test an ultrasound and biopsy will also help in making a clear diagnosis for your symptoms.
There are several risk factors however you do not have to have any of these as it any woman of any race or age can have ovarian cancer. The risk factors are a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, a personal history of cancer, woman 55 or older, woman who have never been pregnant and women on hormone replacement therapy.
Woman can get genetic testing to see if you are at risk..to learn more visit the National Cancer Institute for more information. Most important...listen to your body and do not ignore symptoms that persist.
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