Letter: Learn more about ovarian cancer

September is Ovarian Cancer National Awareness month. There is no screening test for ovarian cancer. The Pap test only screens for cervical cancer.

Women need to learn their risks and the symptoms of ovarian cancer so they can be diagnosed at stage 1 or 2 when survival rates are over 90 percent. Most patients are diagnosed at stage 3 and 4 when our 5 year survival rate is less than 30 percent.

I have ovarian cancer. There is no cure. It is treated as a chronic disease. It will come back. I knew nothing about ovarian cancer before my diagnosis of stage 3C in 2011. I had a recurrence in 2014. Statistically, it should return in the next few months.

I use my survivorship to raise awareness — both with women so they will learn the symptoms and their risks, and with future health care providers through a national program called Survivors Teaching Students, Saving Women’s Lives from Ovarian Cancer. Survivors share stories with medical students and nursing students to increase their awareness of the symptoms and the importance of early diagnosis.

Every woman needs to talk with her doctors about ovarian cancer. Symptoms are bloating, eating less/feeling full, abdominal/back pain and trouble with bowels/bladder.

When these symptoms are new and last for two weeks, women need to see their doctor and have diagnostic testing done to rule out ovarian cancer.

Jane Fleming

Iowa City

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