Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. While ovarian cancer only accounts for about 2% of new cancer diagnoses each year, it is the deadliest gynecologic cancer as it is difficult to diagnose in the early stages. Capital Women's Care Bethesda is one of the first offices in the area to offer genetic counselling services combined with in office hereditary cancer risk assessment. There are ways to determine if you are potentially at an elevated risk of certain cancers which can lead to earlier screening and more importantly earlier diagnosis.

Ovarian cancer is most common in women above the age of 55. It can present with very non-specific symptoms such as bloating, weight loss and pelvic pain. There is no routine screening for ovarian cancer, which is one of the reasons the diagnosis tends to be made later in the disease course.

According to the American Cancer Society, women’s risk for getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Certain factors such as family history and genetics can increase or decrease your baseline risk, as well. Factors such as family history of ovarian cancer or breast cancer can increase your risk for ovarian cancer.

Genetic cancer screening is becoming more popular for patients with a family history of cancer. At Capital Women's Care we will be offering genetic cancer screening right in our office. The testing is convenient and only requires a sample of saliva or sometimes blood. If you qualify for testing based on your history, you will have the opportunity to discuss your history with a genetic counselor. The counselor will provide information about what testing would be beneficial for you. At the end of the conversation, you can decide to have testing or not. Once the test is completed and depending on your results, it may be recommended to start screening for certain cancers regularly. Typical screening for ovarian cancer would consist of blood work and a pelvic ultrasound.

At Capital Women’s Care, we are here to evaluate any symptoms that are of concern to you and answer any questions you may have regarding your risk for ovarian or any other forms of cancer.

Morgan Wilkerson, PA-C

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