Most people are aware that October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but how many of you are also aware that September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month? This cancer is the more silent sister to breast cancer which takes over the month of October with a worldwide pink party and numerous product promotions, some tasteful and some less so. Maybe people and product promoters are just drawn to pink versus the more reserved teal blue color for ovarian cancer. More likely it's because breasts are visual and ovaries are invisible to the eye. But ovarian cancer is very visible to those diagnosed and to their loved ones.
We need to make more noise about ovarian cancer awareness. But first you have to listen... to your body. Ovarian cancer can be sneaky. Symptoms, such as indigestion, bloating, painful intercourse, menstrual irregularities and back pain, can point to other less invasive conditions. While breast cancer has screening protocols like mammograms and breast self-examination, there is no reliable screening for ovarian cancer. Unfortunately for many women the disease is often detected at an advanced stage. Both breast and ovarian cancer are diagnosed in women of all ages and ethnic backgrounds.
For the record, I am a breast cancer survivor. Because I carry the BRCA2 genetic mutation and was at a statistically higher risk for ovarian cancer, I chose to to have prophylactic surgery to remove my ovaries and fallopian tubes.
Maybe more attention is paid to breast cancer because it affects one in eight women and is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in women. Ovarian affects one in 75 women. However, approximately 75 percent of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed at an advanced stage after the cancer has spread beyond the ovary.
Maybe it's because people are more comfortable talking about breasts and not women's "down there" issues. Ovarian cancer is one of five gynecological cancers. They all deserve attention. Funny how Americans make plenty of noise about a woman's right to choose to have an abortion "down there" but shy away from discussing ovarian, uterine, vaginal, vulva or cervical cancer.
Head-to-toe health awareness is important for everyone. You start with becoming educated and taking better care of and listening to your body. I appreciate the "noise" of cancer awareness months but we need to pay attention every day of the year.
Here are some helpful resources (among many):