All Eyes on a Boomer

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Passing the teal buzz around

Teal buzz!

writer, campaigner, debbie, poet
There's a real TEAL buzz in the air and it's all because of ovarian cancer!
This month,across the United States, people are making noise to raise further awareness and attention to this gynaecological cancer, and with very good reason. You see, unlike that of Breast & Cervical cancer, Ovarian cancer still has no guaranteed way of detecting the disease, not unless some of its symptoms have been clearly identified. The problem here is during early stages of ovarain cancer, many women go undiagnosed simply because there were NO symptoms, a very common and quite frustrating problem for both patient and doctor. With this being the case, far too many women advance into the later stages of the disease, an extrememly dangerous situation! The later the stage, the lower the percentage of survial rate.
I have personally experienced this cruel disease, losing my mother only 4 months after her original diagnosis. In the years following, I devoted my time (and much of my life) to spreading the crucial facts about this disease,in an effort to prevent others the heartache associated with a late diagnosis. If caught early enough, ovarian cancer is curable with the right treatment. Sharing the symptoms, has become the ONLY guide in fighting this cancer, and this is why women everywhere join forces, reaching out to tell others the importance of "awareness"and encouraging them to share the information.
It is my hope that this post will be received the same way, and from it perhaps many more will become well informed and proactive within their own communitites.There are more and more ovarian cancer websites/blogs popping-up, providing details of news & events, especially during their respective "Awareness Months".
Why "teal"?
It is the colour which represents Ovarian cancer and you are sure to be seeing much more of this colour as the message FEEL TEAL continues to spread!

What it is

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which some cells of the ovary undergo changes and develop into cancer. Cancer can develop in one or both of the ovaries and can sometimes spread more widely. More than 1200 Australian women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year.

There are four types:

Epithelial ovarian cancer: Affects the outer cells of the ovary - the epithelium. The most common type of ovarian cancer evident in nine out of 10 cases.
Germ cell ovarian cancer: An uncommon form. Forms in the cells in the ovary that make the eggs and usually affect younger women.
Sex-cord stromal cell ovarian cancer: An uncommon form. Occurs in the cells which release the female hormones and can affect women of any age.
Borderline tumours: A group of epithelial tumours. A less aggressive ovarian cancer.

Both germ cell and sex-chord stromal cell ovarian cancers are curable. If they only affect one ovary, women may still fall pregnant after treatment.

A lack of symptoms during the early stages of ovarian cancer makes it difficult to diagnose. Two of the most common symptoms of abdominal pain and bloating can be confused with many other health issues. Other symptoms include:

Loss of appetite
Unexplained weight gain
Changes in bowel or bladder habits
Feeling tired
Pain during sex
Vaginal bleeding

The cause of ovarian cancer is still unknown but risk factors for women include:

Living in a developed country.
Having been through menopause.
Having few or children.
Starting periods early and going through menopause late
Being overweight.
A family history of cancer.
Inheriting genes called BRCA1 and BRCA2.
Ovarian cancer may be less common in women who have:
Had children.
Taken the contraceptive pill.
Breast-fed children.

To diagnose ovarian cancer a doctor will discuss your symptoms and medical history. Other tests include:

Physical examination of the lower abdomen and pelvis.
Blood tests – to test for the protein CA 125 that can be high in ovarian cancer.
Ultrasounds and other imaging tests.
Surgery – the only definitive way to find out if you have ovarian cancer.

Treatment depends on the type of ovarian cancer and where it has spread. For most women, the ovaries, fallopian tubes, womb, omentum and nearby lymph nodes will need to be removed. Sometimes parts of the appendix and bowel will also have to be taken.

Chemotherapy uses medicine to kill cancer cells and is almost always necessary after surgery. It causes side effects.

Radiotherapy uses radiation to kill cancer cells but is only used occasionally. It also has side effects.
Who it affects

Any woman can develop cancer but a family history of the cancer or other factors (see 'causes' above) can increase your risk. The median age for the first diagnosis is 64.
How to prevent it

There is no known cause of cancer but those at risk should let their doctor know the relevant medical or family history. Pap smear tests detect cancer of the cervix, not ovarian cancer.

Further information in Australia:

National Breast and Ovarian Cancer Centre (02) 9357 9400
Ovarian Cancer Australia 1300 660 334
Cancer Council Australia 13 11 20

In the United States:

Estimated new cases and deaths from ovarian cancer in the United States in 2012:

New cases: 22,280
Deaths: 15,500

Epithelial ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancer in the U.S. In 2004, 25,580 new cases were diagnosed and 16,090 women died from this disease. The incidence of this cancer increases with each decade and peaks for women in their eighties. Each pregnancy reduces the ovarian cancer risk by about 10% and breast feeding and tubal ligation also appear to reduce the risk.

Further reading:
Be sure to visit us at the FEEL TEAL CLUB where we raise awareness to ovarian cancer 7 days a week, 52 weeks a year!