Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries and is often undetected until it has spread to the stomach and pelvis. Early-stage ovarian cancer can frequently be treated successfully. However, late-stage ovarian cancer is much harder to treat and is often fatal. Because the symptoms of ovarian cancer don’t usually appear early enough for successful treatment, know what is normal for your body – if you begin to experience anything different and unexplained, talk to your doctor. ¹
What are some of the symptoms of ovarian cancer?
Unfortunately, there are normally no symptoms in the early stages of ovarian cancer. Once the cancer progresses, more symptoms arise but often they are similar to the symptoms of other common illnesses. Some of the symptoms are: ¹
Stomach swelling or bloating
Feeling full quickly while eating
Unexplained weight loss
Pelvic pain or discomfort
Increased need to urinate and/or constipation
What causes ovarian cancer?
Doctors know that cancer starts when a cell mutates in its DNA and the mutation triggers the cell to grow at a rapid pace and multiply, thereby creating a mass of abnormal cells. While doctors have been able to identify certain risk factors for ovarian cancer, they have not been able to specifically point to what causes it. ¹
What are some of the risk factors for ovarian cancer?
Several factors may contribute to your risk of ovarian cancer, such as: ¹
Age – While ovarian cancer can happen at any age, women ages 50 to 60 are more at risk.
Family history – Close relatives, such as sister, mother and aunt on either parent’s side who have had ovarian cancer increases your risk.
Inherited gene mutations – Gene mutations that you inherit from your parents, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, not only increase your risk of breast cancer but for ovarian cancer as well.
Estrogen hormone replacement therapy – Long-term use, usually ten years or more, of estrogen hormone replacement therapy may increase your risk.
Start/end ages of menstruation and menopause – The younger the age for menstruation and/or the older the age for menopause increases your risk.
Certain previous cancers – If you have had colon, uterine or breast cancer, you are at an increased risk.
Never given birth or fertility issues – If you have never given birth or had trouble getting pregnant, your risk is higher.
Can ovarian cancer be prevented?
While there are no ways to guarantee the prevention of ovarian cancer, there are some things you can do which may help lower your risk, such as: ¹
Birth control pills – Using birth control pills for five years or more lowers risk, because oral contraceptives also have risks discuss this option with your doctor.
Given birth – Your risk may be less if you have given birth.
Certain surgical procedures – A tubal ligation, removal of both ovaries and a hysterectomy may lower your risk.
When should I see a doctor?
If you are experiencing any symptoms which aren’t normal for you, call your doctor. Ovarian cancer can often be treated successfully if caught in the early stages. If you have a risk factor for ovarian cancer or any cancer, reach out to your doctor to discuss any concerns you may have. ¹
For more information visit the following websites:
SMART Transportation Division Local 278 member Kyle Jones and his wife Samantha received devastating news Jan. 14, when their seven-year-old son Ayden was diagnosed with Acute Promyelocytic Leukemia (APML). This is an extremely rare cancer for someone as young as Ayden.
The cancer was found after Ayden had been taken to urgent care with symptoms of the flu. The urgent care thought he had pneumonia and suggested that Ayden be taken to a children’s hospital in South Bend, Ind., where he was diagnosed with APML.
In order to get the best care possible, Ayden went to Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis where he started chemotherapy and was placed on a high risk treatment path for APML due to the high number of leukemia and white blood cells found in his system. The path, at its shortest – if everything goes to plan, will include 9 to 12 months of intensive chemotherapy and bone marrow testing.
The early stages of recovery are the most dangerous for Ayden. The cancer cells in his bone marrow have stopped the production of blood clotting agents and the cancer cells in his blood are sending signals to clot throughout his body. Because of this, Ayden is at a high-risk for strokes and does not have any way to stop bleeding. If Ayden can make it out of this window of risk for clotting and bleeding, APML has a 100 percent cure rate. Thus far, Ayden has been responding well to the treatments.
“As a father who has had to deal with both a serious medical issue with one of my children, and as a cancer survivor myself, I understand the mental, physical and financial battle that has been put in front of this family,” said Jerry Gibson, SMART TD’s Michigan state legislative director.
“I was fortunate enough to have so many friends, family and strangers step up and assist with donations and prayers. Knowing you have the support of others allows the family to focus on the important task at hand – getting their loved one healthy and home. Please consider donating to this cause so that Kyle and Samantha can get Ayden back home.”
As you can imagine, this type of care and the need for his parents to be at Ayden’s side pose a significant financial burden, but the generosity of others can help alleviate it. Please do what you can to help Ayden and his family in their time of need.
A GoFundMe account has been set up to help the Jones family with the financial burden caused by Ayden’s illness. Click here to donate to the GoFundMe account.
Tshirts in support of Ayden (approved by Ayden himself) are also being sold and all proceeds go directly to the Jones family. Sizes range from YXS – 3XL and cost $25. Click here to buy a tshirt.
It’s almost summer. The sun is higher in the sky. We spend more time outdoors. Thus, we invite skin cancer — the most common form of cancer in America. And dark skin does not mean you are immune.
More skin cancer cases are diagnosed each year than breast, prostate, lung, and colon cancers combined.
Melanoma is the most dangerous form of skin cancer, with one person dying of melanoma every hour.
While melanoma accounts for fewer than 5 percent of all skin cancer cases, it results in more than 75 percent of all cancer deaths. But if detected and treated early, the survival rate is 99 percent.
So, let’s get serious about preventing melanoma — as well as detecting and treating it before it’s too late — with the following information provided by UnitedHealthcare:
Melanoma is caused primarily by exposure to ultra-violet (UV) rays from the sun.
People with fair skin, especially those with red or blond hair, are more at risk. While white males over age 50 represent the majority of people diagnosed with melanoma, darker-skinned people must also be careful. In fact, their risk is often overlooked, leading to a late-stage diagnosis.
To minimize your risk of developing melanoma:
Avoid exposure to the sun and protect your skin during the hours of the day when the sun’s rays are the strongest — between 10:00 a.m. and 3 p.m.
Avoid significant tanning either from the sun or tanning salons.
Protect your skin using sunscreen with a sun protection factor (SPF) of at least 15 or higher (even in winter); and by wearing appropriate clothing such as wide-brimmed hats and long-sleeve shirts.
Use special sunscreens for babies and children with even higher SPFs. Studies show that one or more blistering sunburns during childhood may be a significant risk factor in developing melanoma later in life.
How do you spot potential melanoma?
As early detection and treatment are critical to improving the likelihood of surviving melanoma, everyone should examine their skin carefully every six to eight weeks — being especially observant for lesions, moles and skin markings.
Look for any changes in the number, size, shape or color of lesions, moles and skin markings. For men, they are usually located on the torso, head, and neck area; for women, they will often develop on the lower legs and torso.
The best approach to spotting melanoma is to learn the simple ABCD approach as a useful guide when examining your lesions, moles and skin markings:
A = Asymmetry: Melanoma lesions are generally irregular or lopsided in shape (asymmetrical); noncancerous lesions are usually rounded (symmetrical).
B = Border: Melanoma lesions usually have irregular borders that are ragged or notched; noncancerous lesions will generally have smoother, even borders.
C = Color: Melanoma lesions often consist of many shades of black and brown; noncancerous lesions will usually be a single shade of brown.
D = Diameter: Melanoma lesions are usually more than ¼ inch in diameter, which is about the size of a pencil eraser; noncancerous lesions will typically be less than this size in diameter.
Contact your doctor as soon as possible if you notice any unusual or odd-looking lesions, moles or skin markings. Your doctor will do a thorough examination of all of your lesions, moles and skin markings, and help you to assess your risk based on your medical history.
If your doctor suspects any of them could be cancerous, a biopsy may be performed.
Remember that early detection and treatment are key actions to take to minimize the effects of melanoma.