September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Ovarian cancer is by far the deadliest of all the gynecologic cancers, mainly because there is no screening tool for this at the moment. Usually it is discovered when the cancer is more advanced (i.e. cancer has spread beyond the ovaries). According to the American Cancer Society, there are an estimated 22,240 new cases and 14,030 deaths in 2014. Lots of research is being done to address this. Luckily only 3% of women with cancer have ovarian cancer. Overall, only about 1 in 70 women are affected.
So what can you do to prevent ovarian cancer?
- If you have a family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer – speak with a geneticist and see about getting tested for the BRCA 1 & 2 gene mutation, which significantly increases your risk of developing both breast and ovarian cancer.
- Birth control pills have been shown to decrease the incidence of ovarian cancer in women. The longer you take the pill, the lower your risk of ovarian cancer. So if you are looking for a contraceptive, this might be the way to go.
- If you are sure that you don’t want to have any more children, consider having your tubes removed (not just a tubal ligation, although this may also decrease your incidence of ovarian cancer). New research is showing that ovarian serous carcinoma, which is the most common type of ovarian cancer, may actually start in the fallopian tubes and not the ovary.
- If you are having a hysterectomy, consider having the fallopian tubes also removed at that time. If you are younger than about 60 the ovaries are not removed if they appear normal since there may be some long term health benefits to leave the ovaries (YES, even if you no longer have a period, those little ovaries seem to still confer some benefits).
Don’t hesitate to reach out to your gynecologist if you have any questions. If you would like to talk to us to directly, fill out our contact form located on our website, or click here.