According to American Cancer Society estimates, there will be approximately 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed and 14,070 ovarian cancer deaths in the U.S. in 2018.
Ovarian cancer accounts for just 2.5 percent of all female cancer cases, but 5 percent of cancer deaths because of the disease’s low survival rates. This is largely because 4-out-of-5 ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed with advanced disease that has spread throughout the abdominal cavity.
FirstHealth Gynecologic Oncologist Michael Sundborg, M.D., says women should be aware of the risk factors that can affect their chance of developing gynecological cancer.
“While every woman is at risk of developing gynecologic cancer, risk factors can include obesity, menopause at a late age, never having been pregnant, and the use of certain medications, such as birth control pills and estrogen,” he says. “The risk in certain cancers also increases with age while the greatest risk for some, especially ovarian cancer, is a family history of cancer, particularly ovarian, colon or breast cancer, and especially breast cancer in pre-menopausal women.”
Throughout the month of September, FirstHealth of the Carolinas will join the nation in observing Gynecologic Cancer Awareness Month by sharing information on cancers that affect the female reproductive organs in an effort to encourage women to pay attention to their body, know what is normal for them and be aware of warning signs that can include:
Pelvic and abdominal pain;
Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly;
And, urinary issues including changes in frequency or urgency.
“Early detection is key,” says Dr. Sundborg. “Since there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, symptom awareness is key. Know your body and know the symptoms.”
Additionally, he adds, gynecologic cancers are treatable when found early, so women should ensure they get their annual check-ups with their gynecologist.
“When diagnosed and treated in the earliest stages, the five year survival rate of gynecologic cancer is more than 90 percent,” says Dr. Sundborg.
Dr. Sundborg’s practice covers the spectrum of services for gynecologic cancers – from genetic testing, diagnosis and counseling, to surgery, medical management, chemotherapy, clinical trials, and long-term follow-up.
Additionally, FirstHealth offers a wealth of oncology support services to assist patients.
“Our comprehensive services expand from patient and financial navigators to providing exercise as medicine to support our patients,” says Matt Sherer, administrative director of FirstHealth’s Oncology and Clinical Trials programs. “Our goal is to educate women and care for them during their cancer journey. Our support services and oncologists make that possible.”