Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that invades the tissues of the ovary. Most ovarian cancers are either ovarian epithelial carcinomas (cancer that begins in the cells on the surface of the ovary) or malignant germ cell tumors (cancer that begins in egg cells).
The National Cancer Institute estimates that over 21,000 new ovarian cancer cases will be diagnosed in 2009 and nearly 15,000 women will die from the disease. Though a woman's risk for ovarian cancer increases with age, it can strike at any time. Because the disease can go unnoticed, women are often diagnosed at an advanced stage and harder to successfully treat.
Seeing the need for awareness and increased early detection of ovarian cancer, President Barack Obama officially designated September as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
In his August 31, 2009 Proclamation the President says, "Every year, thousands are diagnosed and go on to fight the disease with grace and dignity. National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month honors all those affected by this cancer and renews our commitment to fighting an illness that takes the lives of too many in our Nation."
To raise awareness, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance will lead the efforts of thousands of Americans wearing teal, the ovarian cancer community's color, to serve as a reminder that ovarian cancer is one of the deadliest cancers for women.
The 47 Partner Member organizations of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance are hosting events across the country including health fairs, walk/runs and fundraisers. The Kaleidoscope of Hope Foundation of New Jersey will "Turn the Town Teal" by blanketing their community with teal ribbons, balloons and flyers - an annual affair. The South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation is releasing hundreds of butterflies in memory or in honor of loved ones to benefit ovarian cancer research and awareness.
Annette Leal Mattern, ovarian cancer survivor and co-founder of the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Arizona, says "We reached our goal to inform one million women in Arizona about the symptoms of ovarian cancer this year by partnering with Major League Baseball and the Arizona Diamondbacks. An early diagnosis is a woman's best chance of survival."
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance strengthened its voice for the ovarian cancer community through relationships with Cartier, the Entertainment Industry Foundation and TriStar Products, Inc. In addition, the cause has been bolstered by celebrity support from Danica Patrick, Dara Torres, Janet Jackson, Kathy Bates and Rachel Zoe, who have all been touched by the disease in some way.
"Talking about this disease at the national level is essential because diagnosing it is so difficult. September is our opportunity to significantly increase awareness across the United States and, ultimately, help save women's lives," explains Judith Abrams, president of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance.
The best way to protect yourself against ovarian cancer is follow a healthy lifestyle, know your risk factors, and see your gynecologist for annual exams as well as if you develop symptoms that may be related to the disease. Many women do not seek help until ovarian cancer has advanced, but if detected early the five-year survival rate is more than 93 percent. Ovarian cancer symptoms are often subtle, making it essential that you stay in tune with your body.
If the following symptoms occur almost daily for more than two weeks, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance advises that women see a gynecologist:
Other symptoms that may accompany ovarian cancer are nausea, indigestion, constipation or diarrhea, extreme fatigue, shortness of breath, and backaches.
There is no definitive test for ovarian cancer so experts suggest a combination of pelvic/rectal exam, a CA-125 blood test and a transvaginal ultrasound.
Ovarian cancer can strike women of any age or race. Some women, however, are at a greater risk for developing the disease.
Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
Be sure to talk to your healthcare provider about your risk for developing ovarian cancer, prevention, and early detection.
This year National Teal Day is September 4. In addition to wearing the blue-green color, get involved in raising awareness. Visit OvarianCancer.org to download the National Ovarian Cancer Alliance's brochure September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. You can also get more information about ovarian cancer at OvarianCancerAwareness.org and the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund website OCRF.org.
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