Home > Health Conditions Affecting The Elderly > Ovarian Cancer – The Silent Killer

Ovarian Cancer – The Silent Killer

The Wikipedia list of famous women who have had ovarian cancer, died and/or survived from it is long. Some of the most notable on the list are:

Coretta Scott King, widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., died at 78
Ann Dunham, mother of Barack Obama, died at 52
Sandy Dennis, Oscar winning actress, died at 54
Marcheline Bertrand, actress, mother of Angelina Jolie, died at 56
Kathy Bates, Oscar winning actress, surviving
Gilda Radner, Saturday Night Live actress and comedienne, died at 42
Jessica Tandy, Oscar winning actress, Driving Miss Daisy, died at 85
Marsha Rivkin, for whom the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research in Seattle* was founded, died at 49

Not just the famous die of ovarian cancer though. Every year approximately 20,000 women in the United States get ovarian cancer and still many are not unaware of the symptoms. According to the charity, Target Ovarian Cancer, women have a one-in-fifty chance of contracting the disease over the course of a lifetime. The risk increases with age, with four in five cases occurring after age fifty.

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer include:
Being middle-aged or older.
Having close family members on either side of your mother’s or your father’s side who have had ovarian cancer.
Having had breast, uterine, or colorectal cancer.
Having never given birth or having had trouble getting pregnant.
Having an Eastern European background.
Having endometriosis (a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body).

Disintegrate and Fade by *Dark-Raven-Crowgirl on deviantART

Situations that lower your chance of getting the disease include:

Having used birth control pills for more than five years. Having had your tubes tied, both ovaries removed, or hysterectomy (the operation in which the uterus, and sometimes the cervix, is removed).
Having given birth.

Ovarian cancer signs and symptoms can be subtle or often attributed to something else, making it extremely important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. Unfortunately, sometimes there are no symptoms until the later stages of the disease.

Pain in lower abdomen or a heavy feeling in the pelvic area
Abnormal periods
Bleeding from the vagina (especially after menopause)
Weight gain or loss
Unexplained back pain that gets worse
Gas, nausea, vomiting or loss of appetite

Many of these symptoms can be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor or other health care professional. Unfortunately, many times doctors miss the diagnosis as well. According to a new study from the University Of California Davis Cancer Center, more than 25 percent of women with symptoms of early stage ovarian cancer do not receive biopsies to detect it. Although there are no simple screening procedures for ovarian cancer, a doctor can perform several tests to help narrow it down including a rectovaginal pelvic exam, a transvaginal ultrasound and a CA-125 blood test. A routine Pap smear indicates cell changes of the cervix, but does not detect ovarian cancer. Founded in 1996 by medical oncologist Saul E. Rivkin, MD, in memory of his wife who lost her battle with ovarian cancer, the *Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research is a non-profit organization who works with scientists and physicians worldwide on cancer research.

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About The Author: Gloria Ha’o Schneider is an expert in senior citizen and baby boomer issues. Her topics revolve around Senior Living and Healthcare to provide the latest information to this demographic as well as their families and loved ones.

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