“You just GOT TEAL’D!” Don’t be surprised if you hear these words during the month of September, because it’s National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. GOT TEAL’D? is an initiative through WhyTeal.org and The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition to spread awareness of ovarian cancer by giving teal makeovers to someone’s yard, workspace, front door or anywhere else that’s highly visible. And even though it’s a lot of fun, its real purpose is to share valuable, life-saving information.
Nearly 23,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and over 14,000 will die from this disease. It is the deadliest cancer of the female reproductive system, due in part to lack of screening and early detection. Approximately 60 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are already in stage 3, and the five-year survival rate once the cancer is in advanced stages is only 15 percent.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer can be subtle, which means they are often go unnoticed. However, the vast majority of women who are diagnosed report having at least some of the following symptoms:
- Urinary frequency
- Loss of appetite or getting full quickly
- Abdominal pressure or discomfort
- Pain in the lower back, pelvis or legs
- Changes in bowel habits
- Rectal bleeding
- Abnormal vaginal bleeding
- Unexplained weight loss or gain
- Shortness of breath
Of course, these symptoms could be evidence of other medical conditions as well. For example, abdominal pain, rectal bleeding and changes in bowel habits are also symptoms of colon cancer. Bloating and pelvic pain are common signs of ovarian cysts.
If you experience any of these symptoms daily for 2 to 3 weeks, schedule an appointment with your doctor. (The one exception is rectal bleeding, which should always be reported to your doctor right away.) While there is currently no screening test for ovarian cancer, a pelvic exam, vaginal ultrasound or CA-125 blood test can detect ovarian abnormalities (Source: Ovarian Cancer 101).
Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease, but you can fight it by creating awareness and promoting education to those around you. Give someone you love a teal makeover this September and show your support for National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. You never know when you might save a life!