Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

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Read what every woman must know - Ovarian Cancer

  • There is no screening test for Ovarian Cancer
  • It will not be detected in your GYN exam
  • You must know the common early symptoms
  • You must act quickly if symptoms persist
  • You will likely be misdiagnosed - be persistent
  • You must ask your doctor to prove Ovarian Cancer is not the cause of symptoms
    see our symptom diary below

Hope for Heather Symptom Crd Back

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

  • Bloating - unusual and uncomfortable
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain - persistent and increasing intensity
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly - upset stomach or heartburn
  • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often - continuous over 2 to 3 weeks
  • Persistent Constipation
  • Persistent unusual lower back pain
  • Significant menstrual changes

If these symptoms occur they can be initially vague and will increase over time.
If one or more of these symptoms persist daily for more than 2-3 weeks, ask your gynecologist for a combination pelvic/rectal exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and CA-125 blood test. Be very persistent, early detection dramatically increases survival rate/time.
Download the Hope for Heather Symptom Diary - track your symptom over 2-3 weeks and take the dairy with you to discuss with your doctor!

Hope for Heather Symptom Crd Front

Be Aware

  • There is no screening test for Ovarian Cancer - it will not be detected in your annual exam!
  • You must know the symptoms and contact your doctor if they are persistent
  • The PAP test does not detect OC it is used to detect cervical cancer
  • Hysterectomy lowers but does not eliminate the risk of ovarian cancer
  • Ovarian cancer risk increases with age
  • The incidence of disease is especially high among ashkenazi jewish women
  • Family history of breast, ovarian, or colon cancers increase the risk of OC
  • Family history of BRCA1 or BRAC2 mutation significantly increase risk of OC
  • Lifetime risk of ovarian cancer is 1 in 72
  • Lifetime risk of breast cancer is 1 in 8
  • Breast Tissue and Fallopian tube tissues are similar. Breast cancer survivors have an increased risk of ovarian cancer

Ovarian Cancer Facts from the US CDC Dept

The Facts from the CDC
Download the Ovarian Cancer Facts
Published by the Centers for Disease Control:
Ovarian Cancer the Facts

What Every Woman Must Know about Ovarian

  • The Symptoms
  • Your Lifetime Risk
  • Reducing Your Risk
  • When to Act
  • What to Ask
  • Who to Contact

Ovarian Cancer Symptom Diary Cover Photo H4H Symptom Diary
Download the Hope for Heather Symptom Diary
Track your symptoms over 2-3 weeks
Take the dairy with you to discuss symptoms with your doctor
Early diagnosis improves treatment and outcomes

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Photo The Early Diagnosis Problems: "without a test: awareness is best"
  1. Patients do not recognize the daily reoccurrence and increasing intensity of the symptoms, as dangerous.
  2. Patients do not recognize the importance of discussing these symptoms with their doctor.
  3. For an early ovarian cancer diagnosis the patient has a critical role to start the conversation and remain proactive until ovarian cancer is eliminated as a potential cause. Patients often delay making an appointment because the symptoms seem so benign and vague. Mothers are usually the family caregiver. They focus on the health of other family members and dismiss their symptoms.
  4. Patients believe the annual exam will uncover all potential dangerous conditions/diseases.
  5. There is no reliable prescreening test a doctor can order as part of your annual exam. Some insurances will not cover common diagnostic testing until the doctor can document elevated risk.
  6. Ovarian Cancer is most often misdiagnosed because it is a relatively rare cancer and the symptoms are vague. They are also common symptoms of other more common conditions/diseases.
  7. Without a test to order, doctors typically refer discussion of these symptoms to colorectal or urology specialists to eliminate more common causes of the symptoms.
  8. The Good News: vague symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions/diseases. Yet, if the eventual diagnosis is ovarian cancer, early diagnosis is critical for survival of more than 5 years.
  9. A women's survival may depend on proactive follow up appointments and second opinions. To push for clear diagnosis until ovarian cancer is eliminated as a potential cause. Be bold ask your doctor(s) to prove these symptoms are not ovarian cancer.
  10. At a recent national conference, 350 survivors were present, from the stage the question was floated: “Please stand if you were initially misdiagnosed” all except a few survivors stood up. Misdiagnosis and resulting advancement of the disease, is one of the key reasons most diagnosis are stage 3 or 4 when the disease is difficult to treat. “Without a reliable test, misdiagnosis will result.”
Female patient dicusses symptoms with GYN doctor Proactive Response Can Save Your Life
  1. The patient must be persistent and seek a second opinion or request their GYN doctor perform a transvaginal ultrasound and CA-125 blood test to help eliminate ovarian cancer as the cause. “Prove to me I do not have Ovarian Cancer” should be part of the discussion if a patent has an elevated risk for the disease.
  2. Having a friend or family member insisting/encouraging persistent follow up until ovarian cancer is eliminated as a possible diagnosis, has saved numerous lives. Talk to your friends about your symptoms. Find one that can be a care partner.
  3. Listen to your body - know the symptoms - know your family history - act promptly if your risk is elevated due to family history of: breast, ovarian, colon, pancreatic, or peritoneal cancers, or BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation.
  4. Download a symptom diary, track your symptoms over three weeks, take the diary to your GYN appointment to show that the symptoms are persistent.
Evelyn Lauder Photo Evelyn Lauder Experience - Survived Breast Cancer - Died Ovarian Cancer
Evelyn Lauder (Estee Lauder Cosmetics), started the pink ribbon campaign and raised 350 million for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation which she founded in 1993. Was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989. She survived breast cancer for over 20 years, then died from nongenetic Ovarian Cancer in 2011 at age 75. She had financial agility, and access to the best healthcare available. Unfortunately her symptoms did not result in a diagnosis until it was too late to treat successfully.
Evelyn Lauder Photo Ovarian Cancer in Teenage Women - This is rare but should not be overlooked and diagnosis should not be delayed. Contrary to popular belief, anybody born with an ovary is at risk of being diagnosed with ovarian cancer, regardless of age.
Teen Story: One teen (name withheld) finally was diagnosed with a tumor on her ovary following months of suffering from constant bloating, and other symptoms that were being brushed off by doctors as "growing pains". She was successfully treated for stage 1c ovarian cancer. Then it struck her cousin. Her mother was adamant that this teen's aunt take her then 14-year-old daughter to the hospital when she was experiencing similar symptoms. Thanks to her aunt's and mother's knowledge of the disease, this cousin, now 16, was diagnosed and treated for ovarian cancer in its very early stages. In fact, she credits her early detection and treatment to knowing the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Early Diagnosis is critical: Only 20% of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer in stage 1 and 2, when the 5-year survival rate is 65%, but nearly 80% are diagnosed in the later stages when the 5-year survival rate plummets to 29%
Pink and Teal color BRCA ribbon BRCA's Leading Researcher
Dr Clair King (discovered the BRAC gene mutation and the relationship between breast and ovarian cancers) stated at our recent national conference: “With what we know today, no women with a BRCA mutation should suffer from breast or ovarian cancer!” "The issue now is locating and testing every woman (in the potential high risk group) to find the women with this dangerous genetic mutation. Advocacy groups, like Hope for Heather, have the important role of educating the general population on the genetic relationship the BRCA gene presents.
Dr Clair King - discovered BRCA gene
Hope for Heather's Mission
Spread awareness on the symptoms of ovarian cancer in order to save lives. Raise funds to continue research on a screening test and eventually a cure.
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