BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The following is an editorial written by FOX6 News Anchor Beth Shelburne about her experience with the disease and the importance of knowing the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Thursday is World Ovarian Cancer Day, where organizations from across the world are spreading the message about ovarian cancer and its symptoms.
I care about this issue because I lost my best friend to ovarian cancer seven years ago. Enid Weissinger Crutcher was diagnosed in 2004 in a later stage of the disease and sadly, died in 2007 after a brave fight. She was 32-years-old when she died.
There is no routine, reliable test for ovarian cancer. Many women assume they are covered by a yearly pap test, but that is not the case. Because there is no reliable way to diagnose the disease, and because the symptoms often mimic general gastrointestinal issues, ovarian cancer is often not detected until the later stages of the disease.
Symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and urgent or frequent urination.
If you have these symptoms consistently for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor.
The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2014, about 21,980 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and 14,270 women will die of ovarian cancer in the United States. Ovarian cancer remains the deadliest of all gynecologic cancers.
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance says the relative five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is only 44 percent. Women diagnosed at an early stage have a much higher five-year survival rate than those diagnosed at a later stage, but only 15 percent of ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed early. Compare that to breast cancer, which now has a 90 percent 5-year survival rate. This is why supporting ovarian cancer research to develop a test is crucially important.
I urge you to learn more about the symptoms and support local organizations that are working on important research to improve survival rates for women. We owe it to our daughters and the memory of our loved ones who have died too young.
Alabama ovarian cancer organizations:
National ovarian cancer organizations: