What Are the Signs of Ovarian Cancer?

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I'm always curios when I look at new ideas or whether they're actually becoming big enough ideas that change the way you manage patients. That's really what you care about right? Forget about the theory, what happens to us. So researchers from British Columbia Cancer Agency, just released recommendations that women having hysterectomies also have their fallopian tubes removed to prevent ovarian cancer.

So now, it's becoming the standard of how people beginning to manage this at different parts of the world. We estimate that a high risk women for ovarian cancer can have their deaths cut in half over the next 20 years based on that recommendation, and that's a big number. So let's be clear about what this really means doctor.

Doctor, if you don't mind, let me just, two fundamental questions that I'm sure people thinking about. Number one, if I'm having a hysterectomy for any reason, and there're 100s of 1000s done every year, should I have my fallopian tubes taken out? And that's an excellent question because this recommendation is somewhat controversial, and it's right now only being recommended in BC Canada, and not throughout the rest of the States or the rest of Canada, but one of the concerns is that when you take out the fallopian tube, what will be the long term consequences in terms of potential present causing premature menopause or premature ovarian failure? Which is a big issue, but I think anytime someone has a hysterectomy, it's very important to sit down with your physician and say, should I have my fallopian tubes out? Should I have my ovaries out? And some of the things that go into that decision are what is your family history? Do you have a genetic predisposition for cancer? What is your risk of heart disease? What is your risk of osteoporosis? Let me take that for example.

This is, that's on the second big question in my mind. If I have a family history, and by the way, a lot of you don't really know what that means. We're going to talk about that next segment, but If I do have a high risk for getting ovarian cancer, should I go ahead and get my tubes tied prophylactically? Well that's also a good question.

I mean right now this information is so cutting edge. It's right on the edge of just presenting new information that we don't know how safe that is. So, right now we're still recommending, and people who have a genetic predisposition for cancer, that they go ahead and have both their ovaries and their fallopian tubes removed, but there are clinical studies that are now being developed to actually answer that exact question is, would just taking out the tubes be enough, and can we spare people the loss of their ovaries? So I think everyone's watching has one additional question, I suspect, if I had my tubes tied, would it prevent ovarian cancer? No.

It would reduce your risk of ovarian cancer by about 30%, but not all ovarian cancers do arise in the tube. There are some ovarian cancers that actually arise in the ovary, and we know that. You've spent your whole career trying to get women to appreciate how important it is for them to recognize the symptoms in their bodies, and so what I love to be able to do is to get you listen more clearly.

I'm going to shout more loudly about what the symptoms are. So, this is my, the list of six symptoms you should never ignore. Dr. Goff and others have done some wonderful work to demonstrate how you can save lives. You can group these into categories. Bloating and increased abdominal size, where you feel big.

You have problems with belly pain and pelvic pain discomfort, and you have difficulty eating, and you feel full quickly when you do eat. When you see these symptoms, I want you to pick up that phone, and say, I want to get an ultra sound so someone can look at my ovaries, at least feel them, figure out if I've got a problem, especially if you're having the symptoms two weeks out of a month, that's sort of the rough guidelines.

So, how does the news that ovarian cancer might start in the fallopian tubes, influence our thoughts about these symptoms? Why, I think it explains why some women might have these symptoms because if the fallopian tube is spilling out cancer cells, and they're floating through the abdominal cavity, those cancer cells can release chemicals.

They can release hormones that can cause pain, that can cause blotting, can make it difficult to eat, and I think also though, it reinforces the idea that you start to pay attention to these symptoms because we don't have a screening test for fallopian tube cancer, or for ovarian cancer.

So, until we have those tests, really awareness is the best defense that women have. With that thought in mind that it's up to you, I want to push you a little further. When we come back, three things you can start doing today to cut your chance of getting ovarian cancer. I'll show it to you next.