Event raises awareness of ovarian cancer - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina

Event raises awareness of ovarian cancer

By Dawndy Mercer Plank - bio | email

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Though the month is ending, the battle to find a cure or even a screening test still goes on.
The South Carolina Ovarian Cancer Foundation held its annual Whispers Butterfly Release Tuesday.

It was a celebration of life, and local country music star Joyce Wagster kept the mood upbeat with her music. But there was a somber undertone, as the reality remains there's a 75 percent mortality rate for women who get ovarian cancer.

To hear you have that 'C' word is startling and your whole life just kind of stops at that moment. The 2009 Whispers Butterfly Release was a time to honor the women who survived the disease and remember those who lost their battle.

About 500 butterflies were released above the grounds of the State House. Children, more consumed with trying to catch them, were oblivious to a disease that 20,000 women will get this year.

"Unlike some of the other cancers, ovarian cancer lacks an effective screening test to allow for early detection," said GYN oncologist Dr. William Merritt.
Many call for the CA125 blood test for detection, but doctors say it's not a screen.    

"The problem is there are many false positives," said Dr. Terry Smith of SC Oncology Associates. "You can have inflammation.  You can have endometriosis."

The test is thought to only be effective in following the cancer once a mass is detected. Also leading to the death of 15,000 women a year is the lack of recognizing the signs of the disease. Symptoms that are vague and ambiguous:  indigestion, abdominal pressure or pain, feeling bloated, having nausea and loss of appetite.

"Everybody, male and female alike those symptoms off and on all the time," said Dr. Smith. "But if they come and they stay and they tend to increase slightly over time, that's when you say okay, I've got these symptoms, now what do I do?"

You get to your doctor and learn all you can. Because as the Ovarian Cancer Foundation says, until there's a test, awareness is best.

It's important you know pap tests rarely detect ovarian cancer. Experts recommend a pelvic/rectal exam, a sonogram and the CA125 blood test.      

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