Women at high risk for ovarian cancer have few good options for screening and prevention. But once symptoms are detected, it's usually too late.
Ovarian cancer is the 5th leading cause of cancer death for women in this country. In 2006, the American Cancer Society estimates 20,180 new cases will be diagnosed in the United States.
This year, about 15,310 women are expected to die from the disease.
Cancers of all kinds run in Linda Stockman-vines family. So when her mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer, she had genetic testing to assess her own risk. "I tested positive for mutation as my mom had and my aunt had."
Linda had a daughter to raise and an inherited gene that almost guarantees cancer. She took her doctor's advice and had her ovaries removed, before ovarian cancer could develop.
The surgery plunged her into menopause overnight. "It wasn't six weeks to recovery, it was more like eight months to the beginning of recovery."
Dr. Mary Daly heads the family risk assessment program at Philadelphia's Fox Chase Cancer Center. She says as more and more women had risk-reducing surgery, many weren't fully prepared for the consequences. "They didn't have any tools or educational materials to turn to, to teach them what to expect from the surgery and help them make the
The result is a new resource guide for high risk women. "We put our heads together, not only with our physicians who do prophylactic surgery, but with many of the women who've actually gone through it themselves, to try and explore all of the pros and cons, the risks and benefits."
Information that could make a life-altering decision a little easier. The average woman's chance of ovarian cancer is a little over 1%, but in a woman with a genetic predisposition, the risk can be almost 60%.
The surgery is no guarantee against ovarian cancer, but it reduces a woman's risk dramatically.
If you would like to obtain a free copy of Ovarian Cancer Risk-Reducing Surgery: A Decision-Making Resource