September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, and at Southeast Radiation Oncology Center, we wanted to take this opportunity to discuss ovarian cancer and available prevention methods. While many have a basic understanding of ovarian cancer, many are in the dark on a crucial aspect of fighting it: when to get an ovarian cancer screening. Here's everything you need to know about screening for ovarian cancer and how to detect and treat it.
Finding Ovarian Cancer Early On
When found early, ovarian cancer is treatable in many cases, with a 5-year survival rate of roughly 94%. Accordingly, early detection and treatment is crucial to giving you the best possible chance at beating ovarian cancer. This is a little difficult because there are few common, routine preventive screening procedures for early-stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic exams and pap smears can find ovarian cancer, but often only at a later stage. The best option for finding ovarian cancer early on is to pay close attention to any possible symptoms like abdominal swelling, pelvic pressure, abdominal pain, difficulty eating, or needing to urinate frequently. Going to the doctor if you experience symptoms (especially if they persist for more than two weeks) can improve your odds for early detection.
Testing for Ovarian Cancer
Unfortunately, there aren't effective preventative screening tests for ovarian cancer. The two most common tests – the transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and CA-125 blood test – don't offer evidence to show that they meaningfully improve chances of survival through regular screenings. Still, they may be able to help depending on your specific case.
In a TVUS, a technician uses a wand that emits sound waves, allowing your doctor to find masses in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, and uterus. This test can find masses but cannot determine if they’re cancerous or not. A CA-125 blood test looks for the CA-125 protein in the blood, which tends to have elevated levels in women with ovarian cancer. No major medical organizations recommend regular, preventive screenings of either of these tests, but you should talk with your doctor to understand your own individual risk for ovarian cancer and come up with a prevention plan that works for you.
Contact Your Juneau, AK Gynecological Cancer Center
Fighting ovarian cancer or any other form of cancer can be a difficult battle, but early detection and treatment vastly improves your odds – and no matter what your outlook, you're never in the fight alone. Call the Southeast Radiation Oncology Center today at 907-586-5777 if you’d like to learn more about gynecological cancer or have any other questions. You can also visit our contact page for information on how to reach us via email.