Ovarian cancer is one of the dealiest cancers for women, approximately 20,000 women were diagnosed in 2014, according to the American Cancer Society. There are a few ways to stay in tune with your health. Know your symptoms to look for, know your risks and stay informed.
What symptoms should you look for? Bloating can be a huge contributing factor, if you notice that a bloated feeling occurs more often than not, and the size of your abdomen has increased, then you should visit your doctor and ask, “could this be my ovaries?”
“The feeling is more pronounced than just consuming too much at dinner time, it is a persistent bloat for a longer period of time and seems to get progressively worse. If you’re feeling uncomfortable in your abdomen area, bladder, or even your bowel movements, you should consider having a discussion with your doctor,” states Kelly Campbell, M.D.
Family history is a factor in deciding if you could be at risk for ovarian cancer. Look at your family tree, if you have mothers, grandmothers, sisters, or aunts that have had ovarian cancer or breast cancer, you may want to consider genetic testing to see if you carry the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 mutations. Dr. Campbell advises, “If a family member has had either of these cancers we will want to do a blood test to test your CA-125 levels. If they are elevated, this could be a signal of increased risk for carrying these mutations.”
If you do receive notice that your CA-125 levels are elevated, your doctor will work with you to rule out other conditions, such as menstruation, pregnancy, ovarian cysts, fibroids or endometriosis. Elevated levels can help detect a malignant tumor, about 3-4 months before any other means could detect it. This is why it is important to have these levels checked if you fall into the risk category.
Consulting with your Women’s Health and Menopause doctor at your annual appointment, with your known medical history, family history and any discomfort you feel can help your doctor properly advise you on which steps to be pro-active in your own health care. You can schedule an appointment by calling 248.932.9223