The world we live in often demands our proactive approach to health and wellbeing. Among the health concerns that primarily affect women is ovarian cancer — a type of cancer that develops in the ovaries. This condition, though relatively rare, is known as the silent killer due to its subtle symptoms that can easily be overlooked. With that in mind, it becomes even more important to educate ourselves on the prevention, screening, and monitoring procedures recommended by trusted organizations such as the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) and the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF).
What You Need to Know
Ovarian cancer constitutes about 3% of cancers among women but it causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. According to the American Cancer Society, about 21,410 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer in 2021 and about 13,770 women will die from ovarian cancer.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests that currently there is no effective strategy for ovarian cancer screening among average-risk women. The USPSTF also concurs with this, advising against screening in women who do not have symptoms. This is because the current screening tests do not lower the mortality rate from ovarian cancer and often lead to unnecessary procedures and complications.
However, it's vital to have regular gynecologic (pelvic) exams, where your healthcare provider will feel the ovaries and uterus for size, shape, and consistency. Though it's not a proven method to screen for ovarian cancer, it helps in identifying other health issues.
Risk and Prevention
While screening is not recommended for average-risk women, understanding your risk can be a pivotal factor in the early identification of this condition. Factors that increase a woman's risk include being over the age of 55, having a family history of ovarian cancer, or having a genetic mutation such as BRCA1 or BRCA2.
Prevention strategies include:
- Knowing your family history: Understanding your family’s medical history is a critical step in recognizing any genetic predispositions.
- Diet and Lifestyle: Maintaining a healthy weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise can help reduce the risk.
- Reproductive choices: Having a child, breastfeeding, and using birth control have been found to lower the risk of ovarian cancer.
- Surgery: In high-risk individuals, removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes is sometimes recommended.
Monitoring and Vigilance
For individuals at high risk due to family history or genetic predispositions, closer monitoring may be suggested, which might include more frequent pelvic examinations, ultrasound examinations, and blood tests to measure a substance called CA-125, known to be higher in some women with ovarian cancer.
Role of Harmony Health
In this landscape, Harmony Health emerges as a steadfast guide to navigating the realms of ovarian cancer prevention and monitoring. We believe in empowering individuals through a thorough understanding of their health status and predispositions.
At Harmony Health, we offer support and guidance in understanding the intricacies of ovarian cancer risk factors and help in drawing a clear picture of what prevention and monitoring look like for you, particularly:
- Individual Consultations: To help you understand your risk factors and create a customized monitoring plan.
- Resource Allocation: Directing you to the relevant specialists, and helping you get the screenings and medical assistance you need.
- Mental Health Support: Offering emotional and psychological support to those grappling with the risk or diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
Understanding ovarian cancer, its screening avenues, prevention, and monitoring, is a robust step towards health self-advocacy. While the path of understanding and confronting ovarian cancer risks and realities might seem daunting, remember that you are not alone in this journey. Armed with knowledge and the heartfelt support from Harmony Health, you can navigate this path with assurance and tranquility.
Reach out to Harmony Health, where our goal is to facilitate a harmonious health journey, mitigating fears, and fostering an environment of understanding, awareness, and prevention in the realms of ovarian health.
Reach out to see how Harmony Health Advocates can help support you and your loved ones.
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