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The International Ovarian Cancer Connection

About Ovarian Cancer

Do you recognize some of the common symptoms of ovarian cancer?
  • Pressure or bloating in your abdomen
  • Constant and progressive changes in bowel or bladder patterns
  • Persistent digestive problems
  • Ongoing excessive fatigue
  • Abnormal bleeding
  • Pain during inercourse

Ovarian cancer symptoms are often subtle and easily confused with symptoms for other disorders. Frequently, women don't recognize the symptoms, and too often doctors lack sufficient awareness to effectively diagnose the disease. The tragic result is that too many women never have a chance against ovarian cancer.

Ovarian cancer is a serious and under-recognized threat to women's health.

  • Ovarian cancer, the deadliest of the gynecologic cancers, is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among U.S. women.
  • Ovarian cancer occurs in 1 in 57 women, up from 1 in 70 women several years ago.
  • An estimated 14,500 American women will die from ovarian cancer in 1999 and more than 25,200 new cases will be diagnosed this year.
  • Currently, 50% of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die from it within five years; among African American women, only 46% survive five years or more.

Ovarian cancer is very treatable when it is detected early, but the vast majority of cases are not diagnosed until it is too late.

  • In cases where ovarian cancer is detected before it has spread beyond the ovaries, over 91% of women will survive longer than five years.
  • Only 24% of ovarian cancer cases in the U.S. are diagnosed in the beginning stages.
  • When diagnosed in the late stages, the chance of five year survival is only 24-28%.
  • Ovarian cancer may be difficult to diagnose both because symptoms are vague and easily confused with other diseases, and because there is no reliable, simple to administer screening tool.

Raising public awareness of ovarian cancer by educating doctors and women about the disease could save lives.

  • Many people do not know that ovarian cancer often presents with symptoms that include abdominal pressure or bloating, constant and progressive changes in bowel or bladder patterns, persistent digestive problems, excessive fatigue, abnormal bleeding and pain during intercourse.
  • Early recognition of symptoms is the best way to save women's lives. Without increased education about ovarian cancer, many women and their doctors will continue to ignore or misinterpret the symptoms of the disease.
  • Recognition of women who are at heightened risk for developing ovarian cancer is also key. Risk factors include: increasing age, personal or family history of ovarian, breast or colon cancer, and not bearing a child.

More ovarian cancer research is needed — to develop early detection tools, better therapies, cures and to prevent the disease.

  • No one knows what causes ovarian cancer or how to prevent it.
  • Very little is known about key scientific aspects of the disease.
  • 90% of women who get ovarian cancer do not have any of the known risk factors.
  • There is no reliable and easy to administer screening test like the Pap Smear for cervical cancer and the mammogram for breast cancer.
  • Ovarian cancer research is drastically underfunded. The National Cancer Institute spent only $41 million last year on ovarian cancer research.
  • Although one third as many women die of ovarian cancer as die of breast cancer, NCI spent only one eighth as much money for ovarian cancer as for breast cancer research last year.
  • Until there is a test, AWARENESS is best.

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