Friday, August 29, 2008

September is Now Ovarian Cancer Month

In one fell swoop of the pen on the 26th. President Bush signed into proclamation, September is now Officially Ovarian Cancer Month. This is a very big deal for those families who have been affected by an Ovarian Cancer diagnosis.

Some facts

Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of cancer death from gynecologic tumors in the United States. Early disease causes minimal, nonspecific, or no symptoms. Therefore, most patients are diagnosed in an advanced stage. Overall, prognosis for these patients remains poor. Standard treatment involves aggressive debulking surgery followed by chemotherapy.

Approximately 22,430 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed annually.

Overall, the prognosis of ovarian cancer remains poor, with a 45% 5-year survival rate. Approximately 15,280 women die every year in the United States from ovarian cancer.

Parity is an important risk factor. Women who have been pregnant have a 50% decreased risk for developing ovarian cancer compared to nulliparous women. Multiple pregnancies offer an increasingly protective effect.

The lifetime risk for developing ovarian cancer is 1.6% in the general population. This compares to a 300% increased risk when 1 first-degree family member is affected, rising to 500% when 2 relatives are affected.

Epithelial tumors represent the most common histology (90%) of ovarian tumors. Other histologies include

Prophylactic bilateral salpingo-oophorectomy is indicated in high-risk women, particularly women with a genetic predisposition for ovarian cancer (ie, BRCA carriers). Surgical prophylaxis decreases the risk by at least 90%. Not all cases of ovarian cancer are prevented as women are still at risk for developing primary peritoneal carcinomas.

The Society for Gynecologic Oncology states that BRCA testing may be indicated when there is at minimum a 5% likelihood of carrying one of these deleterious changes.

If you are Jewish and have ovarian cancer, your likelihood is 28%. If you are jewish and your mother had ovarian cancer, your risk is well over 5%.

That's why Helix Health of Connecticut has teamed up with the Group for Women in New York City. Helix Health of Connecticut sees patients with this world renowned group of Gynecologic Oncologists.

The Sherpa Says: Catching this risk before the disease is ideal. Unfortunately, there are very few tests to identify early stage or predisease. BRCA1/2 are our best shots. Despite an early detection test being in the news over the last few days......I am certain a molecular test will be validated shortly.

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