FORT WAYNE – Throughout September, Parkview Health is spreading awareness about a ovarian cancer, a rare, but dangerous form of the disease that affects tens of thousands of women every year.
Ovarian cancer affects a woman’s ovaries – small structures that live next to the uterus and are important for reproduction.
Iwona Podzielinski, a gynecological oncologist at Parkview Cancer Institute, says most ovarian cancer patients are 60 or older, but some women may have a higher risk based on factors like gene mutations and a family’s history with the disease.
Ovarian cancer may be rare, but it has a high mortality rate. This year, Dr. Podzielinski estimates over 21,000 women, or one in 78, in the U.S. will develop ovarian cancer. Out of those diagnosed, almost two-thirds are expected to die.
If a patient is detected with early stage ovarian cancer, their chance of survival improves significantly, according to Dr. Podzielinski. These patients have up to a 90% cure rate.
Detecting ovarian cancer in early stages is very difficult since there are hardly any significant symptoms. The most common symptoms associated with the disease could be easily confused with indigestion or weight gain.
“Diagnostic challenges lead to our diagnosis in the very late stages,” Dr. Podzielinski said. “Therefore, a majority of patients will be diagnosed in late-stage cancer, and a lot of patients will pass away from this malignancy.”
Tests like a CT scan or an ultrasound can help detect possible signs of ovarian cancer. However, Dr. Podzielinski says diagnostic surgery is the best test to determine if a woman’s ovaries have any cancerous cells.
Watch below as Dr. Podzielinski explains some of the most common treatments used against ovarian cancer:
Since ovarian cancer tends to be detected in late stages, Dr. Podzielinski urges patients to be as diligent as possible with their doctors. By having regularly scheduled appointments and exams, that can help reduce the risk.
“It’s a rare condition that’s difficult to find, so we ask for patients to pay attention to their bodies,” Dr. Podzielinski said.