Ovarian Cancer is both a sneaky and deadly disease, largely because doctors have difficulty diagnosing it. Once thought to have no symptoms, Ovarian Cancer actually has no specific symptoms that help doctors identify it. Thus, women diagnosis with Ovarian Cancer often find out too late and then handed a death sentence. But there are tell-tell signs that can better our chances and even help our doctors help us. For instance, symptoms along the lines of feeling abdominal pain, back pain and fever are signs that Ovarian Cancer are present. These symptoms are also common in someone experiencing high fever or prolonged body aches, but if these symptoms last more than 3 weeks, it’s time to see the doctor. Routine check ups to our healthcare provider can help us better pinpoint the source. What kind of tests can our doctors run to see if we have Ovarian Cancer? A pelvic exam, a blood test for CA125 and a vaginal ultrasound exam. But even with the possibility of Ovarian Cancer lurking, we can still protect ourselves from it.
When it comes to making sure our defenses are high and strong enough to ward off many disease, it always begins with us and what we need to do:
- Get regular check-ups - this sounds like an obvious “duh”, but because Ovarian Cancer’s signs are less obvious, being pre-screened gives us more than a fighting chance to beat the odds.
- Birth Control - Not just useful for preventing unwanted pregnancies (and fighting cases of acne), oral contraceptives also protect against damage done to the ovaries during childbearing years.
- Pregnancy – This may seem a little a little touchy for the feminist in a few of us, but getting pregnant, and breastfeeding, interrupts ovulation. When ovulation is interrupted, the risk of Ovarian Cancer is reduced up to 40%.
- Sterilization - Other touchy concept here, but having our tubes tied (because “sterilized” is such an ugly word when referring to people), does that same thing as being pregnant. It interrupts ovulation. And risks of Ovarian Cancer can be reduced by 71%.
- Removal – This is an option for women who had a strong history of Ovarian Cancer (or even Breast Cancer) in their family. What do we mean by strong? At least 2 or more women, closely related (mother, sister, grandmother) have had Ovarian Cancer. In such a case both the ovaries and uterus are completely removed.
No matter our risk or stage in life, there are many ways we can guard our health and guard against Ovarian Cancer. As always, we should treat our bodies like the temples we’d want to live in for the rest of our lives. Because, in fact, that’s exactly what we’re doing. And although there is much we can do, doctors can help with the things we can’t. Make sure to see your healthcare professional as regularly possible. The last thing we’d ever want is for a disease to eliminate the option of treatment because we failed to get it checked out. It’s our health. It’s always been in our hands.