According to The American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer affects roughly 22,240 women as of 2018. Unfortunately, more than half of those women diagnosed with ovarian cancer will die.
Ranking fifth in cancer deaths among women, ovarian cancer accounts for the most deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. However, in the past 20 years, the rate at which women are diagnosed has been slowly falling.
Ovarian cancer occurs when cells in the ovaries grow out of control and form tumors. BRCA genes suppress the ability of cancer cell growth. However, with a BRCA gene mutation, the cancer gene begins to grow out of control. There are different types, subtypes, stages, and grades that classify ovarian cancer.
Women with a BRCA1 gene mutation have an increased 40 to 60 percent risk of developing ovarian cancer by the age of 85. Women with a BRCA2 gene mutation have a 16 to 27 percent risk at a later age, according to the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s website.
Diagnosing ovarian cancer is difficult. An ultrasound and CT scan can help show masses around the pelvis. However, the only method to officially diagnose the cancer is to remove part of the tumor for testing.
Just as with any other cancer, an early diagnosis can lead to better outcomes. About 94 percent of women with early diagnosis live longer than five years after diagnosis. Be aware of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are abdominal bloating or swelling, pelvic pain, persistent indigestion, increased abdominal girth, and more.
Although a hysterectomy does not eliminate the risk of cancer, it does lower the chances a great deal. Typically recommended to women who are at high-risk and after they have finished having children.
Research shows that premenopausal women who have BRCA gene mutations and have had their ovaries removed reduced their risk of breast cancer by 50 percent or more. As well as their risk of ovarian cancer by 85 to 95 percent, according to The American Cancer Society.
There are side effects that may occur with a hysterectomy, though. For example, early menopause, depression, stress, and pain during sexual intercourse. Early menopause has had its share of side effects, too, which I explained in Intimacy as a Previvor.
As the years pass since my hysterectomy, it seems as though that I’m finding ways to overcome and better live with these side effects. It’s not the ideal choice, but personally, I feel like a hysterectomy was the best choice.
However, I know not all women choose to get a hysterectomy. Doctors recommend having frequent cancer screenings to detect cancer early on for women who want to opt out of a hysterectomy.
Of course, it’s also different if you have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and there are various treatment options. Few of the options are chemotherapy, radiation therapy, surgery, and targeted therapy. Please consult with your doctor so they may recommend the best option for you.