As the year continues on and schedules get busier, scheduling a wellness exam may be the last thing on your mind. What if we told you that your yearly exam can help save your life? That exam is a time for your provider to check for abnormalities such as ovarian cancer. According to the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer. However, the five-year survival rate is over 90% when ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated in its earliest stages.
Your ovaries are organs located on the side of the uterus and store eggs and produce estrogen and progesterone. Ovarian cancer is when cancerous cells develop in, near or on the outer layer of one or both ovaries. The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition explains that cancer cells differ from normal health cells because they:
According to Mayo Clinic, early-stage ovarian cancer rarely causes any symptoms. As the cancer progresses to advanced-stages, the symptoms can be nonspecific and are often mistaken for more common benign conditions:
Because this cancer has a higher survival rate when diagnosed early but doesn’t show symptoms in the early stages, it’s especially important to have regular exams with your provider. If you have a family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer, talk to your provider about a higher risk and potential testing for certain gene mutations that increase your risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Being a woman puts you at risk of developing ovarian cancer. However, there are other factors to be aware of that can increase your chances of getting it:
While these factors may increase the risk of developing ovarian cancer, they don’t necessarily mean that one will get the disease. It’s important to be aware of these increased risk factors, so you and your provider can monitor your symptoms more closely.
There are three types of ovarian cancer, and the type of cell where the cancer begins is the determining factor. Mayo Clinic explains the three types:
Ovarian cancer is just one abnormality that can be discovered in a yearly wellness exam. No matter how busy your schedule is, prioritizing your health now can help you in the future. If you suspect your symptoms are something bigger or you have more questions about ovarian cancer, schedule an appointment with your provider. At Southdale ObGyn we offer yearly exams and cancer screenings to help our patients stay on top of their health.