New Jersey Suggests February as Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Symptoms in ovarian cancer, such as bloating, are insidious and frequently ignored or attributed to weight gain or irritable bowel syndrome. For this reason, many women with ovarian cancer are not diagnosed until their conditions are advanced and much more likely to be resistant to treatment. With greater awareness of the warning signs and symptoms in women with ovarian cancer for both patients and health care professionals, women could be diagnosed in the early stages of disease. In the early stages of ovarian cancer before the tumor has metastasized, treatment is highly effective and more treatment options are available. New legislation aimed at making February Ovarian Cancer Month is intended to bring greater awareness of ovarian cancer’s warning signs.
Legislation sponsored by New Jersey’s Senator Sean Kean, R-District 11 to permanently designate February as “Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month” in New Jersey passed the full Senate unanimously. This bill directs the governor to annually issue a proclamation announcing that February is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. It also directs the New Jersey governor to remind public officials, private organizations, the health care community and all citizens to observe Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month with appropriate events, public service announcements, and related activities.
Once the New Jersey Assembly approves this bill, it can signed into law. With the initial passage of this bill, other states are likely to pass similar bills. Ideally, other states will follow suite and Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month can be adopted nationally.
Ovarian cancer is the most common cause of cancer death from gynecologic tumors in the United States. According to mortality rates for 2007, the 5-year mortality rate for newly diagnosed cases of ovarian cancer is 45 percent. Ovarian cancer can spread by local extension, invasion through the lymphatic system, implantation within the peritoneal cavity, hematogenous dissemination, and transdiaphragmatic passage. Intraperitoneal dissemination is the most common and recognized characteristic of ovarian cancer. Through intraperitoneal dissemination, malignant cells can implant into tissue anywhere in the peritoneal cavity. Malignant cells are more likely to implant in sites of stasis along the peritoneal fluid circulation. By metastasizing and spreading to other organs and forming its own supply of blood vessels, ovarian cancer is very difficult to treat.
Early symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and include changes in bowel or bladder habits, abdominal bloating, pressure or fullness in the pelvic cavity, feeling full after eating, difficulty eating the usual amounts of food, frequent urination, Risk factors for ovarian cancer include: a family history of ovarian cancer and a family history of breast, uterine, colon, or rectal cancer, with higher numbers of affected family members increasing the risk; personal history of uterine, colon, breast or rectal cancer; age over 55 years; absence of past pregnancy; and postmenopausal estrogen replacement therapy without progesterone therapy for 10 years or longer. Several studies have also shown a possible association with talcum powder, obesity and fertility drugs, but these studies have not been confirmed.