Shining a light on cancer
By ERICKA P. THOMPSON
For decades ovarian cancer quietly killed women. With no known symptoms, the cancer increased to the ninth most common cancer in women and ranks fifth as the cause of cancer death in women.
However, a potential life saving breakthrough occurred in June when researchers identified a set of health problems that may be symptoms of ovarian cancer: bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and feeling a frequent or urgent need to urinate.
“From my perspective,” says Dr. Len Lichtenfeld, deputy chief medical officer for the American Cancer Society (ACS). “This (recommendation) is meant to make women (and their doctors) aware of the fact that seemingly common or relatively minor symptoms could be related to ovarian cancer.”
As Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month hits the midway point, the (ACS) has focused its attention on the need for increased awareness among women.
The ACS estimates that there will be about 22,430 new cases of the disease in the U.S. this year and nearly 15,280 women will die.
A new study released last week provided evidence that obesity leads to more aggressive types of ovarian cancer.
The society recommends that women receive regular health exams and see a doctor if they have “swelling of the stomach, unusual vaginal bleeding, pelvic pressure, back or leg pain or problems such as gas, bloating, long-term stomach pain, constipation or indigestion, especially if they’re overweight.
In addition, the ACS is also focusing its attention to bringing awareness regarding childhood cancer. Though it’s rare, medical advances now help most young patients survive. Still, the ACS says it’s estimated that 10,400 cases will be diagnosed in 2007 along with 1,545 premature deaths.
Leukemia is the most common childhood cancer accounting for 30 percent of all cases, and joins the list of others that include brain and nervous system cancers, Neuroblastoma and Wilms tumor (see side bar for more information).
To ensure further advances in childhood cancers, participation in clinical trials is critical.
The trials are the bridge between the development of a new drug in the laboratory and the use of the drug by patients who need it says the ACS.