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Ovarian Cancer Survival: Why is it so low?



Figuring out that you or someone you love has cancer is confusing, frightening, and generally a hellish experience. This is pretty typical of any type of cancer that you are dealing with.

But if you look at data on different types of cancer, you'll find that some, like ovarian cancer tend to be more deadly than others. In fact, ovarian cancer is the deadliest cancer of the reproductive system in people with ovaries in the United States. By the end of 2018, 22,240 people have received a new diagnosis for ovarian cancer, and the disease will kill about 1

4,070 people, according to the American Cancer Society (19459010) (ACS). By comparison, although endometrial cancer (the most common reproductive carcinoma in people with ovaries) is diagnosed almost three times more often, it will kill nearly 3,000 fewer people by the end of 2018, says ACS . What's going on here?

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer is not a death sentence. However, the prognosis typically depends on when the cancer is detected.

The five-year relative survival for all types and stages of ovarian cancer is 47 percent after ACS . In relative survival, people with cancer are compared with those in the general population. This means that people with any type of ovarian cancer are about 47 percent more likely than people without cancer to live at least five years old after diagnosis. [19659006] In humans diagnosed with cancer outside the ovary before the relative survival rate rises to 92 percent – a significant and promising difference. The problem is that only 15 percent of all ovarian cancers are diagnosed as early as in ACS .

. Unfortunately, the early symptoms of ovarian cancer often go unnoticed if they even appear.

"Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed later in the course of the disease, leading to a lower cure rate," said David Cohn, a gynecological oncologist and chief physician at Ohio State University's Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, tells SELF. "This may be because many of the signs and symptoms of early ovarian cancer may be difficult to identify for patients or their care providers."

These symptoms generally include flatulence or swelling in the abdomen, feeling full of food fast, unexplained weight loss, discomfort in the pelvis, changes in bowel habits (such as constipation), and frequent peeing, says the Mayo Clinic ,

These are unfortunately vague symptoms that can also be caused by so many other, more common illnesses, says Mitchel Hoffman, a gynecological oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, told SELF. (Or just lifestyle habits, for example, often eating things that make you feel bloated.)

This is linked to the fact that some people do not have any symptoms of this cancer and it is difficult to diagnose ovarian cancer at an early age. "When people realize that something is wrong, the disease is usually advanced," says Dr. Hoffman.

Another topic: There is no reliable or commonly recommended screening method for ovarian cancer.

"There is nothing like the Pap test for cervical cancer or mammogram for breast cancer to screen for ovarian cancer," says Stephen Rubin, MD, chief of gynecological oncology at the Fox Chase Cancer Center, told SELF , 19659016] The two tests most commonly used to detect ovarian cancer are a transvaginal ultrasound (looking at a person's uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries via an ultrasound wand entering the vagina) a CA-125 blood test. This measures the amount of a protein called CA-125 in the blood that may increase due to ovarian cancer, says ACS .

However, both methods are flawed when it comes to screening people for normal risk of getting ovarian cancer. Transvaginal ultrasound can see masses but can not tell if they are benign or cancerous. In fact, most masses of this kind of screening discoveries are not malicious, explains the ACS . Transvaginal ultrasound will also detect no tiny changes in the ovaries before cancer cells form into a mass (the kind that a Pap test with cervical cells can do), Dr. Hoffman.
As for the CA-125 blood test, this protein may increase due to other health conditions, such as endometriosis or pelvic inflammatory disease. Although CA-125 is elevated in many people with ovarian cancer, it does not increase in all making it an unreliable test for ovarian cancer.

Even pelvic examinations, which you should become regular, are not well suited to getting ovarian cancer early because these masses are hard to feel, explains the ACS . However, they are still an important part of having general reproductive health.

We know that this all sounds scary. There are a few things you can do to protect yourself from ovarian cancer or if you develop it to detect it early.

The use of oral contraceptives may help reduce your risk who has ovarian cancer, according to the National Cancer Institute [19459584] .

This effect may persist for years after termination of birth control. "It's really remarkable," says Dr. Ruby. Researchers believe this is due to the way oral contraceptives containing estrogen suppress ovulation, thereby reducing exposure to naturally occurring hormones that may affect ovarian cancer risk, the National Cancer Institute , (Of course, this should not be the only factor that determines the type of birth control you use, especially as oral contraceptives may temporarily increase your risk of developing breast and cervical cancer With a Physician About Your Health History You Can Determine Which Type of Contraception is Most Valuable for You.)

Maintaining a healthy weight for you may also help reduce your ovarian cancer risk, says the ACS : although there are some reservations here. This is not surprising, as there is some evidence that compounds with a higher body mass index are associated with an increased risk of cancer. Keep in mind, however, that it is far from clear that you say you have a certain weight or that you have a specific body type, in particular you are getting cancer or ovarian cancer. As SELF has extensively reported in a study on the Science on Weight and Health obesity or obesity is a factor that may affect overall cancer risk. Therefore, maintaining a healthy weight can be helpful to you in this area. Again, a doctor can help you navigate what your specific weight and habits can mean for your overall health, including your cancer risk.

If you have an increased risk of ovarian cancer, you may want to consider genetic screening

If you are at high risk, it means that you have a family history of ovarian cancer, BRCA1 or BRCA2 Gene mutations (or other genetic disorders such as the Lynch syndrome) your cancer risk), had received estrogen hormone replacement therapy or are over 50 years old, says the Mayo Clinic [1945971] .

If any of this is true for you, it may be more appropriate to undergo transvaginal ultrasound or a CA-125 exam, even if they are not perfect, says the ACS . If your family has had severe breast and ovarian cancer in the past, or if you have a genetic syndrome that increases your risk of cancer, your doctor may also recommend genetic testing. Depending on the results, they may suggest considering surgical methods to reduce the risk, e.g. For example, removing both ovaries and the fallopian tubes (where most ovarian cancer actually starts) after you have had children you want.

If you or a loved one is actually diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the sooner you get treated, the better. "They want to be treated where doctors constantly see these diseases," says Dr. Ruby. He recommends that everyone in this position looks for oncologists or cancer centers that have a lot to do with ovarian cancer. "This is the best way to get optimal treatment." Of course, every human's cancer experience is different. So it's quite possible to see someone who is not a specialist and do it well or vice versa – but it's important to remember

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