September marks National Ovarian Cancer Month, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is encouraging women to be more aware of the cancer symptoms.
Research has shown "ovarian cancer symptoms are subtle and often missed or mistaken for other issues."
These four symptoms have been proven to occur more often in women with ovarian cancer (compared to the general public):
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary issues including changes in frequency or urgency
According to the Department, these factors may increase risk of ovarian cancer:
- Personal or family history of ovarian, breast, uterine or colorectal cancer. Approximately 20 percent of ovarian cancer is hereditary. Any female who has been diagnosed with a form of ovarian cancer should be referred to a genetic counselor.
- Increased number of menstrual cycles in a lifetime (never had children, late menopause, etc.)
- Infertility, regardless of whether fertility drugs were used.
- Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy.
- Increasing Age (Note: ovarian cancer affects all ages and all ethnic groups.)
These factors may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer include:
- Oral contraceptive use
- Removal of fallopian tubes and/or ovaries
Only 15 to 20 percent of ovarian cancer cases are detected early, officials say.
In Michigan, there is an estimated 750 cases and 500 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.