Women’s Gynecological Exams: Another Victim Of The Troubled Economy?

“… At Mother’s Day, a new survey from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), http://www.ovarian.org, reveals some startling facts about women’s health: more than 52 percent of women expect the economy will impact their gynecological health choices, in many cases delaying or skipping their annual gynecological exams altogether.”


“… New Survey From National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Says Gynecologic Health Exams Likely To Fall To The Wayside Due To Economic Factors

noccDALLAS (May 5, 2009): At Mother’s Day, a new survey from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), www.ovarian.org, reveals some startling facts about women’s health: more than 52 percent of women expect the economy will impact their gynecological health choices, in many cases delaying or skipping their annual gynecological exams altogether.

Fielded by TNS Global for the NOCC, the study surveyed 1,000 Americans on their awareness of ovarian cancer, a leading gynecologic cancer. Ovarian cancer affects 20,000 women annually and is responsible for the deaths of 15,000 each year. Older women are at highest risk. Additionally, about two-thirds of ovarian cancer deaths occur in women aged 55 and over and about 25 percent occur in women between 35 and 54*, according to the National Institutes of Health.

Significant results from the survey include:

  • One in three women has not had a gynecologic exam in the past year.
  • 28.5 percent will skip seeing a gynecologist and will only see their primary care physician.
  • 23.2 percent will only get their annual exam if they have a problem.
  • 14.2 percent will delay their annual exam altogether.

TROUBLED ECONOMY AFFECTS WOMEN’S HEALTH

‘These results are particularly troubling to the NOCC due to the nature of ovarian cancer, the fact that women are not seeing their physicians for an annual exam and the lack of awareness of symptoms,’ said Carol Ansley, CEO of the NOCC. ‘There is no screening test, so women need to be their own advocates and have an open dialogue with their health practitioners about persistent symptoms. With ovarian cancer, early detection is key to long-term survival. Improved survival rates come from continuing to educate women about early signs and symptoms.’

Women should pay heed to the following symptoms:

  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual changes
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Back pain
  • Constipation

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should consult their physician, preferably a gynecologist. Persistence of symptoms is key, especially when the symptoms do not resolve with normal interventions such as diet change, exercise, rest, etc. Also, a Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer, so additional testing will need to be done by a health practitioner to make a diagnosis. This could include a pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound or a blood test.

The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that provides public education and awareness about ovarian cancer through a toll-free Help Line, local NOCC Chapters, comprehensive website, peer support, publications, and awareness/educational programs. NOCC’s mission is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. The Coalition is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer. For more information on the “Break the Silence” campaign and to contact one of the local NOCC Chapters, visit http://www.ovarian.org or call 1-888-OVARIAN.

*Source: National Library of Medicine—www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000889.htm

SourceWomen’s Gynecological Exams: Another Victim of the Troubled Economy? New Survey From National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Says Gynecologic Health Exams Likely To Fall To The Wayside Due To Economic Factors, Press Release, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, May 5, 2009. [Emphasis added in quoted text by Libby’s H*O*P*E*™]

Comment:  In June 2007, the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation, the Society of Gynecologic Oncologists, and American Cancer Society released a consensus statement on symptoms of ovarian cancer. The description of primary ovarian cancer symptoms listed in the consensus statement differs from those listed in the NOCC News Press Release quoted above.  For clarification, we have reprinted the Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Consensus Statement in full, but without the signatories list.  To learn more about the warning signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, click here.

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms Consensus Statement

Historically ovarian cancer was called the “silent killer” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population.1,2 These symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.3 Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms.2-6 Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis. Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer.2-5 These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.1

References

1. Goff BA, Mandel LS, Melancon CH, Muntz HG. Frequency of symptoms of ovarian cancer in women presenting to primary care. JAMA 2004;291:2705-12. Level II-2

2. Olson SH, Mignone L, Nakaraseive C,, Caputo TA, Barakat RR, Harlap S. Symptoms of ovarian cancer. Obstet Gynecol 2001;98:212-7. Level II-2

3. Goff BA, Mandel L, Muntz HG, Melancon CH. Ovarian carcinoma diagnosis: results of a national ovarian cancer survey. Cancer 2000;89:2068-75. Level III

4. Vine MF, Ness RB, Calingaert B, Schildkraut JM, Berchuck A. Types and duration of symptoms prior to diagnosis of invasive or borderline ovarian tumor. Gynecol Oncol 2001;83:466-71. Level III

5. Yawn BP, Barrette, BA, Wollan, PC. Ovarian cancer: the neglected diagnosis. Mayo Clin Proc 2004;79:1277-1282. Level III

6. Goff BA, Mandel L, Drescher CW, Urban N, Gough S, Schurman K, Patras J. Mahony BS, Anderson M. Development of an ovarian cancer symptom index. Cancer 2007;109:221-7. Level II-2

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