Detect Ovarian Cancer

It’s the fourth leading cancer killer among American women, but unlike breast and cervical cancer, there is no test designed to catch ovarian cancer before it spreads. So what is a woman’s best defense?

Forty-six-year-old Diane walks regularly to clear her head. She has a lot to think about since her mother died of ovarian cancer last fall. “At that time, we had no cancer in the family, and she was the first one. So it was a big shock to all of us,” she says. Diane worries cancer could strike her, or even worse, one of her daughters.

More than 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer each year. Only 24 percent of all cases are found at an early stage. Ovarian cancer is not easy to detect. Unlike breast cancer, which we have the mammograms that we can use for screening. Cervical cancers we have the pap smears.

An ultrasound can detect suspicious changes in the ovaries, but it’s unreliable at detecting cancer early. Some women with ovarian cancer produce high levels of a substance called “CA-125.” However, the test isn’t always accurate.

A woman’s best defense is yearly exams, because the symptoms of ovarian cancer can be subtle. The favorite questions to ask a women in her 40s is whether she has any problems with indigestion or heartburn. Because frequently that can be a first sign something is going on in the region of the ovaries.

Diane is watching for any signs so she can preserve her mother’s memory and her family legacy. You may be at a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer if you’ve never had children, have taken fertility drugs or have a family history of ovarian, breast or colon cancer.

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