One of the most difficult cancers to treat, ovarian cancer, is in the spotlight this month during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. For the 22,530 women estimated to receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer this year, the prognosis is expected to be poor – nearly 80 percent of them will be diagnosed in advanced stages. Sadly, another 14,000 women are expected to die this year from this disease.
Dr. Mike Janicek, medical director of gynecologic oncology at Abrazo Central Campus, said there is no way to screen for ovarian cancer. In most cases, ovarian cancer starts in the fallopian tubes. By the time it travels down to the ovaries, it typically has metastasized, which is why most women are diagnosed with stages 3 and 4 cancers.
The good news is that medical advancements are helping to better diagnose and treat women. Abrazo Central Campus at 2000 W. Bethany Home Road is one of the few hospitals/surgical centers in the country performing an innovative type of procedure to attack the cancer. For some patients with very advanced abdominal cancers, such as ovarian cancer, HIPEC or Hyperthermic Intraperitoneal Chemotherapy, is a treatment that involves surgically removing a tumor and then dispensing an extremely high concentration of heated chemotherapy directly into the abdomen. The goal is to shock and kill remaining cancer cells directly, without diluting through the bloodstream.
Ovarian cancer also can be slow to reveal itself. Some of the warning signs to watch for include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, trouble eating or feeling full quickly, urinary symptoms, such as urgency or frequency, or a family history of breast, ovarian, or multiple other cancers.
Some women have genetic mutations that make them more likely to develop ovarian cancer, Janicek said. To learn more, visit www.abrazohealth.com.