Sep 14, 2011 – Dr. Oz has teamed up with The National Ovarian Cancer Coaliton (NOCC) to offer a solution to the many women who may die unnecessarily as a result of having their ovarian cancer misdiagnosed. The Dr. Oz Show recently did a segment on Ovarian Cancer-The Silent Killer. Why is it considered silent? Together with guest doctors, Dr. Barbara Goff, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the University of Washington, and Dr. Carol Brown, MD, Gynecologic Oncologist at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, The Dr. Oz Show imparted a lot of eye-opening information to help us understand.
They explained that doctors didn’t think ovarian cancer symptoms developed until the disease had spread and the chances of cure were nonexistent. Dr. Goff said she was even taught in medical school that ovarian cancer did not have symptoms!
But Dr. Oz said that ovarian cancer does have symptoms and they have been ignored and misdiagnosed to the detriment of those who have suffered and/or have died. A study of 1700 women with ovarian cancer showed many of the women were misdiagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, stress, and depression. 30% of the women were given prescriptions for medication for another condition prior to being diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Early detection is key to beating this disease. Dr. Brown informed that for women in Stage 1, the cure rates are from 70 to 90%. But for women in Stage 3 and 4, the cure rates are at best 30%!
So, what is Dr. Oz’s solution? Make sure that we women know what those early warning signs are and make sure that we are heard by our medical providers. Together with The National Ovarian Cancer Coaliton, Dr Oz has created what he calls an Ovarian Cancer One-Sheet that seems to be a self screening tool and a physician tick sheet in one.
It is designed to make both women and medical provider take notice. Women will fill out the sheet which lists warning signs and rates their severity as cause for concern. If after this self screening, you have those concerns, take this form to your doctor with expectations of being heard. The first line asserts:
“Dear Health Care Provider, I am here today because I’m concerned about the new and worsening symptoms I have been experiencing for more than 2 weeks now. I know that these symptoms can be early warning signs of ovarian cancer. Below are the symptoms I’m currently experiencing.”
And what are those warning signs? Dr. Goff and Dr. Brown explain.
- Bloading or increased abdominal size-Bloading that occurs almost every day and persists more than two weeks.
- Pelvic or abdominal pain-Pain that goes on every day or most days for about two or three weeks.
- Difficulty eating or feeling full. A cancerous ovary releases chemicals that slows the gut and the food’s transit time in the intestines making you feel full and sometimes constipated.
- Frequency of urination-If it’s not a urinary tract infection (UTI) and you have had it every day for two or three weeks.
- Family history-Specifically breast, ovarian or colon cancer.
- Personal history-Have you had those types of cancers in the past? If so, it would make you more at risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Dr. Oz wants us to be aware of these tests that may save our live. Dr. Goff and Dr. Brown explain.
- Transvaginal ultrasound – the probe is placed inside the vagina so doctors can get very close to the ovaries for better detection.
- Recto-vaginal exam – the doctor places one finger in the rectum and one finger in the vagina. Ouch! But, this allows the doctors to feel the ovaries better than a vaginal exam.
- CA-125 blood test – measures a protein or a substance that ovarian cancer would produce and secrete into the bloodstream.
During a Q&A segment with the studio audience, Dr Brown and Dr. Goff answered some questions that many of us may be misinformed and are notworthy of mention..
Q. Does a Pap smear assist in the detection of ovarian cancer?
A. No. The Pap smears are used to screen for cervical cancer. They are not used to screen for ovarian cancer
Q. Is there a particular age that we should be more concerned about screening for ovarian cancer?
A. One of the risk factors of ovarian cancer is age. The older you get the greater your chances of developing it. However, it is important for women to understand that you can be a younger age and develop ovarian cancer particularly if there is a family history. Dr. Oz made mention of an 11 year old that was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Q. I was diagnosed with PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome)when I was 17. At 22, what are my risks of developing ovarian cancer?
A. PCOS can increase your risk for a certain type of gynecologic cancer called endometrial cancer, a cancer of the lining of the uterus. It is not known if it increases your risk of ovarian cancer.
Dr. Oz encourages us all to use his Ovarian Cancer One-Sheet. Please visit Dr. Oz’s Website to download and print out the form.
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