Your Health: Ovarian Cancer

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - According to The National Cancer Institute, there will be more than 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer and more than 15,000 deaths, while most cases are diagnosed in the later stages; there is still hope with new drugs and diagnostic tools.

Huntsville resident Kim Patterson was diagnosed with Stage II ovarian cancer first in October of 2006 and again two years later.

"Not knowing what the outcome was going to be for one. Knowing I had a young daughter who was 20 years old at the time. Not knowing if I was going to pass that along to a family member, if it was genetic", said Patterson - explaining what went through her mind as she was given the initial diagnosis.

Her journey led to a couple of surgeries, chemotherapy and more. She worked the whole time she took chemotherapy and says outlook and faith pulled her through.

These models of the female reproductive system don't reveal the cruel numbers. 70% of women in the U.S. are diagnosed in an advanced stage of ovarian cancer. That's why the death rate is so high.

Dr. David Engle is a highly specialized oncologist who says there are symptoms that can be a tip off for an early diagnosis.

"Some of these common symptoms include abdominal, pelvic pain. Urinary frequency or urgency, back pain and bloating", said Engle.

Dr. Engle says if these symptoms become present several times a month for patients who are pre-menopausal, or menopausal, doctors need to take a second look. Family history can also play a major role.

Some people believe the BRCA-125 blood test is a good diagnostic tool, but Dr. Engle says it's better for recurrent activity.

"BRCA testing, which stands for Breast Cancer, Associated Protein, came out in the late 90's. With people with the known mutations we are suggesting the removal of both tubes and ovaries", said Dr. Engle.

He says there are several studies involving both the newly diagnosed and recurrent patients. These studies will hopefully lead to better diagnostic tools and drugs.

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