Newswise — Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death in American women, according to the American Cancer Society, and accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. And according to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 22,530 women will be diagnosed with the disease in 2019; 13.980 will die from it.
“Any woman who experiences unexplained bloating, an upset stomach, an urgency to urinate or abdominal pain for a few weeks, should go see a doctor,” said Stephanie V. Blank, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System, “and if her doctor does not take these symptoms seriously, she should see another doctor.
“Too often, women are sent to the wrong doctor, or told they’re just aging or gaining weight when experiencing these kinds of symptoms, and by then they have lost valuable time.”
Mount Sinai experts are available during September’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to offer tips on detecting symptoms, understanding the benefits of genetic testing, and to discuss emerging therapies.
Experts Available for Interviews & Resources
- Stephanie V. Blank, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology for the Mount Sinai Health System; Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Konstantin Zakashansky, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology, Mount Sinai West, Associate Professor Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- Nimesh Nagarsheth, MD, Associate Professor Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
- The “Woman to Woman” peer-to-peer program that provides emotional support, mentoring, and financial aid to women in treatment for gynecologic cancer; founded by Valerie Goldfein, an ovarian cancer survivor: https://www.mountsinai.org/care/obgyn/services/support-programs/woman-to-woman and http://inside.mountsinai.org/blog/woman-to-woman-builds-a-community-of-hope-and-support-for-cancer-patients/
Know Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Women diagnosed when their disease has not spread beyond the ovary have a five year survival of 93%. Because the ovaries are small and embedded deep within the abdominal cavity, detection is difficult and often delayed. Since the prognosis depends on the stage of the cancer, or detecting it before it has spread, it is especially important to recognize the following symptoms:
- Gastrointestinal upset such as gas, indigestion or nausea
- Pelvic and/or abdominal pain or discomfort
- Pelvic and/or abdominal bloating or swelling
- A constant feeling of fullness
- Unexplained change in bowel and/or bladder habits
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Abnormal or any bleeding post-menopause
Ovarian Cancer Risks
- Family and personal history: more than 20 percent of ovarian cancers are attributed to inherited genetic mutations. Mutations in BRCA1 and BRCA2 are responsible for most inherited ovarian cancers. The lifetime ovarian cancer risk for women with a BRCA1 mutation is estimated to be between 40 and 50 percent and for women with BRCA2 mutations, between 10 percent and 29 percent. In comparison, the ovarian cancer lifetime risk for the women in the general population is less than 2 percent.
- Age: Ovarian cancer is not a normal disease of aging, but risk increases with age. Most ovarian cancers develop after menopause, and half of all ovarian cancers are found in women 63 years of age or older.
Ovarian Cancer Prevention
- Birth Control Pills: Long term use of oral contraceptives reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer by approximately 50 percent.
- Gynecologic Surgery: Hysterectomy, tying tubes. Preventative removal of tubes and ovaries is the best means of ovarian cancer prevention (but is not appropriate for all women).
About The Mount Sinai Health System
The Mount Sinai Health System is New York City's largest integrated delivery system, encompassing eight hospitals, a leading medical school, and a vast network of ambulatory practices throughout the greater New York region. Mount Sinai's vision is to produce the safest care, the highest quality, the highest satisfaction, the best access and the best value of any health system in the nation. The Health System includes approximately 7,480 primary and specialty care physicians; 11 joint-venture ambulatory surgery centers; more than 410 ambulatory practices throughout the five boroughs of New York City, Westchester, Long Island, and Florida; and 31 affiliated community health centers. The Icahn School of Medicine is one of three medical schools that have earned distinction by multiple indicators: ranked in the top 20 by U.S. News & World Report's "Best Medical Schools", aligned with a U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" Hospital, No. 12 in the nation for National Institutes of Health funding, and among the top 10 most innovative research institutions as ranked by the journal Nature in its Nature Innovation Index. This reflects a special level of excellence in education, clinical practice, and research. The Mount Sinai Hospital is ranked No. 14 on U.S. News & World Report's "Honor Roll" of top U.S. hospitals; it is one of the nation's top 20 hospitals in Cardiology/Heart Surgery, Diabetes/Endocrinology, Gastroenterology/GI Surgery, Geriatrics, Gynecology, Nephrology, Neurology/Neurosurgery, and Orthopedics in the 2019-2020 "Best Hospitals" issue. Mount Sinai's Kravis Children's Hospital also is ranked nationally in five out of ten pediatric specialties by U.S. News & World Report. The New York Eye and Ear Infirmary of Mount Sinai is ranked 12th nationally for Ophthalmology. Mount Sinai Beth Israel, Mount Sinai St. Luke's, Mount Sinai West, and South Nassau Communities Hospital are ranked regionally.