Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month seeks to inform

LISLE, Ill. — Only 15 percent of women are familiar with the symptoms of ovarian cancer, and 82 percent have never talked to their doctor about the symptoms and risk factors, according to a national survey sponsored by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). Yet, more than 20,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and more than 15,000 will die from the disease.

In an effort to increase understanding, early detection and survival of ovarian cancer, the Illinois Division of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition launches an information campaign this September. “We’re hosting awareness events in hopes to fill the gap in knowledge and discussion surrounding this disease,” said Luann Anderson, Illinois Division coordinator. 2006 marks the seventh observance in the U.S. of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.

“We’re excited to expand our efforts statewide this year,” said Anderson. Events will be offered in the Chicagoland, Bloomington/Normal, Quincy/Hannibal, Springfield and Vandalia areas. Most of the more than 12 events during September are free to attendees. They include inspirational talks by survivors, information from medical professionals specializing in ovarian cancer treatment and tables at health fairs. People may check the Illinois Page of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Web site www.ovarian.org, call (630) 769-1664 or e-mail il.nocc@ovarian.org for specific event information.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are subtle and hard to pinpoint because they often mimic more prevalent digestive and gastrointestinal disorders. Common symptoms include persistent swelling, bloating, pressure or pain in the abdomen, gastrointestinal upset and/or frequent urination in the absence of an infection. Typically, two or more symptoms occur simultaneously and increase in severity over time.

If caught in the early stages, the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is 90 percent, yet 75 percent of women are still diagnosed in the advanced stages when the prognosis is poor.

“It’s important for us to help women understand the symptoms of ovarian cancer and give them tools they need to effectively ask questions and seek information from their doctors,” said Holly Jenson, Illinois Division president. “We hope that women will attend an awareness event and share the knowledge they gain with their family and friends.”

Since its inception in 1995, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition has been committed to raising awareness of ovarian cancer in communities across the country and to providing education and support for women with ovarian cancer and their families. For more information, visit www.ovarian.org or call 1-888-OVARIAN.

From the Sept. 6-12, 2006, issue

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