Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month 2020 – Risk Factors

It is important that women know some of the factors that may increase their risk of developing ovarian cancer. If a woman has any of these risks, it doesn’t necessarily mean she will get it. It just means she is at higher risk than the general population.

Ovarian Cancer Risks

If there is a known history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer in a family, it may be a good idea to ask your doctor about genetic testing. After her mother died of ovarian cancer, Angelina Jolie brought the BRACA gene into the news when she tested positive for one of the mutations and had preventative surgery.

Ten years ago I was a newly diagnosed ovarian cancer patient just beginning my treatments. The only risk factors that increased my chance of getting it were my age (59 at the time of diagnosis) and being post-menopausal. The only person in my family that I knew of who had cancer before me was my maternal aunt who had breast cancer.

A few years after my treatments were finished, I saw a genetic counselor and was tested for the BRACA1 and BRACA2 genetic mutation. My test was negative. A later genetic test found I was positive for Lynch Syndrome which can make a person at higher risk for colon, ovarian, and some other cancers.

So why did I get ovarian cancer? I will probably never know the answer to that.

I just know that every morning I am grateful to wake up above ground. Every day is a gift!

This year I am dedicating the month of September to ovarian cancer awareness. Look for more Teal Tuesday posts.

2019 TEAL Walk Savannah

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in the United States. Even though today is the end of September, there are many hard working people who won’t stop advocating for ovarian cancer awareness all year long. During the month of September there were many fundraisers, runs, and walks all around the country to raise money for research, to provide support and assistance for ovarian cancer patients, and to bring awareness to ovarian cancer.

As an ovarian cancer survivor, this cause is near and dear to my heart. I am one of the lucky ones whose cancer was diagnosed at an early stage. Most women are not so lucky.

Early detection is very important in the treatment of ovarian cancer. Most patients are diagnosed in advanced stages and only 45% survive longer than five years. When detected early, the five year survivor rate is over 92%. Ladies, please learn the symptoms and listen to your body. Do not ignore the symptoms! Talk to your doctor if any of the symptoms persist for more than two weeks.

  • There is no diagnostic test for Ovarian Cancer.
  • A pap smear does NOT detect Ovarian Cancer.
  • Symptoms include bloating, pelvic/abdominal pain, feeling full quickly, fatigue, urinary urgency and/or frequency, bowel changes, menstrual irregularities.

The highest occurrence of ovarian cancer is in women over 50 (I was 59). Other risk factors are:

  • Family history of ovarian, breast, endometrial, or colon cancer.
  • Women who have never had children are at higher risk.
  • Having gene mutations of BRCA 1, BRCA2, or Lynch syndrome.

Tell Every Amazing Lady (T.E.A.L) About Ovarian Cancer is one of the organizations supporting ovarian cancer awareness.

One of the ways they do this is by organizing and putting on walks in several cities around the United States. Several years ago, a patient from Savannah, Georgia reached out to them for help and the idea of a TEAL walk in Savannah was born. This weekend I participated in the 6th annual Savannah walk.

It was a very emotional day being with other survivors and their supporters. So glad to see so many turn out to support this worthy cause.

There’s more about my cancer journey and last year’s walk at TEAL Walk Savannah 2018. Please visit Tell Every Amazing Lady to learn more about the T.E.A.L. organization.