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  • Writer's pictureKim Horner

Know the Signs of Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is often called a silent killer.

The disease is difficult to detect in its early stages. Most cases are caught after the disease has spread and is less treatable. Each year, about 22,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 14,000 die of the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.

Most women have a 1.3 percent lifetime chance of developing ovarian cancer. However, those of us with BRCA mutations face much higher risks. An estimated 44 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA1 mutation and about 17 percent of women who inherit a harmful BRCA2 mutation will develop ovarian cancer by the age of 80, according to the National Cancer Institute.

Because of my BRCA2 mutation, I had my ovaries removed 10 years ago. I'm thankful that I was able to reduce my risk of ovarian cancer. My surgery, however, did not reduce my risk completely. I still have a small risk of primary peritoneal cancer, which involves cells that line the inside of the abdomen. These cells are similar to the cells that line the ovaries.

There's no reliable screening to detect ovarian cancer or primary peritoneal cancer early.

During ovarian cancer awareness month, learn the signs and symptoms of the disease and support the many wonderful organizations working toward reliable screening method, better treatments and the day when ovarian cancer will no longer be called a silent killer.

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