Ovarian cancer is the leading cause of death from gynecologic cancers in the United States and is the seventh most common cancer in women worldwide. It is most often not diagnosed until it has advanced to late stages.
Its symptoms are vague and not always gynecological, so many women spend months either ignoring symptoms or seeing specialists who are unlikely to do pelvic exams and find themselves being treated for irritable bowel syndrome or urinary tract infections. This is one of the reasons that the disease has such a high mortality rate. Detection at its earliest stage will offer the best prognosis.
Education is a powerful weapon. Right now, an exciting grassroots battle against this disease is being led by Vancouver mother Erin Barrett via social media. Erin was diagnosed with stage 1 ovarian cancer in September 2015, shortly after delivering her daughter Edie. A nearly 6-pound tumor was found and removed on the day she gave birth.
“I call [Edie] an angel baby. If I hadn’t had her when I had her, they wouldn’t have found it. … I would have just dismissed it as hormones. I am absolutely confident this would have been missed and I would not have been diagnosed,” she told TODAY.com
When people asked Erin what they could do to help in response to her diagnosis, she decided that what she wanted most was to help other women with ovarian cancer get the same chance that she has had, early diagnosis. So on Dec. 22, 2015, she wrote a Facebook post asking people to take 15 minutes to tell a few women in their lives about the symptoms of ovarian cancer, with the goal of telling 580 women.
Three days later, on Christmas, she posted “[I’m] completely floored by the sheer number of people who have seen and shared my post. Right now it sits at 2,238 shares – not even people who have seen this, but shares.”
Her story has been picked up by news stations across the world and before the turn of the year hundreds of women had written to tell her that they’d made appointments with their doctors to discuss symptoms.
According to TODAY.com, ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Feeling full quickly after eating, even if it is a small meal
- Weight loss
- Back pain
- Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Feeling the frequent need to urinate
- Unexplained vaginal bleeding
TODAY.com also reports that women are at greater risk if:
- They have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer
- They’ve never been pregnant
- They have a personal history of cancer or endometriosis
- They are older than 55
- They underwent menopause hormone therapy
Here at Righting Injustice we’ve been concerned about ovarian cancer for many years. We’ve been trying to unveil some of the mystery that surrounds this devastating disease, speaking out about the often unmentioned decades of research that have shown a correlation between the use of talcum powder for feminine hygiene and increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. It has been our hope to raise awareness of an environmental risk factor that could easily be avoided if manufacturers of talc powders would choose to properly inform the public of this risk.
Beasley Allen attorneys are investigating cases of ovarian cancer linked to use of talcum powder in the genital region. Talc products used regularly in the genital area could increase the risk of ovarian cancer if the powder were to travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovaries. A jury recently found consumer health care products manufacturer Johnson & Johnson knew of the cancer risks associated with its talc products but failed to warn consumers.