Early detection of ovarian cancer
- Nicole Burke, 24, of Tampa, Florida, was diagnosed with a rare type of ovarian cancer after experiencing bloating as the only symptom.
- Fortunately, doctors were able to remove the seven-pound tumor and determined that Nicole was cancer-free.
- With ovarian cancer, there is a lack of effective screening measures, which means it is even more important to watch for ovarian cancer symptoms and talk to your doctor as soon as possible. if they occur.
Nicole Burke, 24, of Tampa, Florida, was diagnosed with a rare type of ovarian cancer after experiencing bloating as the only symptom. Fortunately, she had no symptoms, as often women have no symptoms with ovarian cancer.
This subtype was mucinous ovarian cancer (MOC). According to the NIH, “early-stage OMC has an excellent prognosis, with advanced disease having a poor outcome.”
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Nicole brought up the issue during a routine doctor’s appointment and, out of an abundance of caution, her doctor thankfully ordered a pelvic ultrasound. “I didn’t feel like it was necessary to pay for an ultrasound. I had no pain or symptoms or anything out of the ordinary,” recalls Nicole.
Her doctor determined that the bloating in her stomach was due to an ectopic pregnancy, which is when a fertilized egg develops outside of the uterus.
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“I was so stunned and speechless, and so heartbroken. I couldn’t believe everything that was happening,” Nicole said. She needed emergency surgery and was told to lay still. “They were afraid that any sudden movement would cause this to burst and I would bleed,” she said.
Once in the ER, however, there were a handful of doctors disagreeing about what that growth inside her really was: an ectopic pregnancy, a mass, a cyst, a tumor.
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“At the end of the day, I came home from the hospital not knowing what was inside me,” she said of the terrifying experience.
A specialist at Tampa General Hospital removed a seven-pound mass connected to one of Nicole’s ovaries, along with a fallopian tube and its appendix.
Burke underwent surgery to remove the mass, which weighed seven pounds and was connected to one of her ovaries. Surgeons also had to remove the ovary in question, along with a fallopian tube and its appendix.
Related: Woman Has Seven Organs Removed to Beat Rare “Jelly Belly” Cancer
A few weeks later, Nicole was shocked to learn it was ovarian cancer.
“I was so sure it wasn’t going to be cancer. I didn’t even let the word cancer leave my mouth until then,” she said, adding that her eyes “filled with tears” as she processed the news. “I couldn’t believe it.”
Luckily, her medical team caught the cancer early, and all of the cells appeared to have been removed during surgery.
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“I’m so thankful it turned out like this,” Burke said. “Many women with ovarian cancer catch it too late. Unfortunately, this is the truth about this cancer. It acts quickly and silently.
Now, Nicole is urging other women — and men — to always “take that extra step” with your health. “See your doctors every year, mention anything that might worry you. Exercise more often, eat better. Take care of your health not only physically but also mentally and emotionally.
Understanding Ovarian Cancer
If you have no symptoms and do not have a high-risk hereditary cancer syndrome, current recommendations are that you should not get screened for ovarian cancer. Screenings are not reliable enough and could do more harm than good.
However, if you are at high risk for ovarian cancer due to an inherited genetic syndrome, screening may well be a good idea, although it has not been proven to increase your chances of survival.
Spot the early symptoms of ovarian cancer
But like Dr Jose Alejandro Rauh-Hain of MD Anderson Cancer Center says your best chance of catching cancer early is to see your doctor right away if you have symptoms. These symptoms include bloating, abdominal pain, and changes in bowel habits.
But don’t be back to introduce yourself. “It’s very important that patients aren’t afraid to ask their doctor questions,” Dr. Rauh-Hain told SurvivorNet. “It’s important that they are not afraid to ask these questions, because the earlier we can diagnose cancer, the better the prognosis.”
Ovarian cancer: the whispering cancer
Knowing what symptoms to look for and alerting your doctor if you spot them can make a big difference in your treatment and your prognosis. Catching cancers in their early stages leads to better outcomes.
“Ovarian cancer is sometimes called ‘the whispering cancer,’ simply because it’s quite hard to catch,” explains Dr. Derrick Haslemmedical oncologist at Intermountain Healthcare in Logan, Utah, near Salt Lake City.
Related: 27-Year-Old New Mum Determined To See Her Daughter’s Second Birthday Amid Recurrence Of Late-Stage Ovarian Cancer: ‘I Can’t Give Up; I have too many things to live’
Although we have procedures in place to screen for other cancers, such as Pap smears to test for cervical cancer and mammograms for breast cancer, the widespread equivalent test simply does not exist for ovarian cancer. A transvaginal ultrasound can detect growths in the ovaries and pelvis, but it is expensive and not practical as a screening test, so it is only used for women who are already suspected of having breast cancer. ‘ovary.
The lack of effective screening measures means it’s even more important to watch for symptoms of ovarian cancer and tell your doctor as soon as possible if they occur.
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