Breaking the Stigma: Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
September marks the observance of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month – a time dedicated to raising awareness about this silent killer that often goes unnoticed until it’s too late.
Ovarian cancer is a disease that occurs when abnormal cells grow and multiply in the ovaries, the reproductive glands in women. Unfortunately, ovarian cancer is often difficult to detect in its early stages as the symptoms are vague and can be associated with other conditions. As a result, many women may not realize they have ovarian cancer until it has progressed to an advanced stage and spread to other parts of the body.
According to the American Cancer Society, in 2021, around 21,410 women in the United States are expected to receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer, and approximately 13,770 women will die from the disease. Although the mortality rate has decreased over the years, ovarian cancer remains one of the deadliest cancers for women.
One of the biggest challenges in addressing ovarian cancer is the stigma that surrounds it. Often referred to as a “silent killer,” ovarian cancer is shrouded in misconceptions, myths, and taboos, leading to a lack of awareness and support from the public. This stigma can also make it more difficult for women to discuss their symptoms and seek help or support.
Breaking the stigma around ovarian cancer is essential to improve early detection rates, treatment options, and survival rates. The first step in breaking the stigma is to increase awareness about the disease, its symptoms, and risk factors. While some risk factors for ovarian cancer, such as age, genetics, and family history, are beyond our control, other lifestyle factors such as maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, and not smoking, may decrease the risk.
Recognizing the symptoms of ovarian cancer is also critical for early detection. These may include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, feeling full quickly, changes in bowel habits, and urination frequency or urgency. It is essential to note that these symptoms can be attributed to other conditions, so it’s important to talk to a healthcare provider if they persist.
In addition to increasing awareness and understanding, supporting ovarian cancer research and patients is vital in breaking the stigma. Advocating for advancements in ovarian cancer research, education, and funding can help provide better treatment options and improve the overall survival rates.
Ovarian cancer awareness month serves as a reminder of the importance of regular check-ups and advocating for our health. It is a call to action to break down the myths and stigma surrounding ovarian cancer and increase awareness, understanding, and support. Together, we can make a difference and work toward a future where every woman has the knowledge and resources to detect and treat ovarian cancer in its early stages.