World Ovarian Cancer Day: Together We’re Stronger

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. We ask that you join us on World Ovarian Cancer Day (May 8th) in the fight against the most lethal form of gynecologic cancer.

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LEARN: World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2015

On May 8, 2015, the individuals from around the world are invited to join the global movement to raise awareness about ovarian cancer. This year the theme will celebrate the natural bond women have with each other, encouraging people to send in photos of celebratory bonding moments and to sign the awareness pledge located on the website (www.ovariancancerday.org) to spread the word about ovarian cancer for the third annual World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD).

Dr. Maya Soetoro-Ng, President Obama’s sister, speaks out about losing her mother to ovarian cancer.

“Now in its third year, World Ovarian Cancer Day has grown globally to over 78 organizations from 25 countries,” says Elisabeth Baugh, chair of the WOCD international organizing committee and CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada. “In celebrating the unique bonds of women, we are acknowledging the strong drive they have to share and help each other. Without women, the world would not be. Joining together, our common voice symbolizes a global support group for the 250,000 women who will be diagnosed this year with ovarian cancer.”

Celebrate the women you love, trust, and are proud to know by helping to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and view a video of celebratory images to be released globally on May 8, World Ovarian Cancer Day.

“Our outreach has demonstrated the ability of this campaign to increase awareness of the disease and to connect people internationally with the resources available to educate others,” explained members of the Steering Committee, Calaneet Balas, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, Annwen Jones, Target Ovarian Cancer and Alison Amos, Ovarian Cancer Australia. “This year we want to put faces to that movement – faces of women who care about and support each other.”

In 2015, not only cancer organizations, but all interested groups who care about the health of women internationally are invited to register and partner with us. The pledge also engages individuals worldwide, empowering them with information about ovarian cancer and a quick and easy way to pass on the word about the disease.

All those who sign the World Ovarian Cancer Day pledge at www.ovariancancerday.org will receive an e-card on May 8 with ovarian cancer risk and symptom information. This card is to be passed along to at least five friends, who in turn will be encouraged to pass it along to their friends.

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. Women in developed and developing countries are similarly affected by ovarian cancer.

The recent disclosure by Angelina Jolie Pitt in a New York Times Op-Ed about prophylactic surgery to remove her fallopian tubes and ovaries because of a genetic predisposition for ovarian and breast cancer has put knowledge about your family history in the spotlight. Approximately 15%- 20% of cases of ovarian cancer are due to family history. This means having a close blood relation (mother, sister, daughter, grandmother, granddaughter, aunt or niece) on either your mother’s or your father’s side of the family who has had breast cancer before the age of 50 or ovarian cancer at any age.

In addition to sharing symptom and risk information, WOCD will also focus on prevention of ovarian cancer.

WOCD’s social media campaign includes the WOCD website (available in 4 languages: English, French, Portuguese and Spanish), Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Pinterest. Activities in 2014 were highlighted in photos and through the pledge dissemination which reached over 15,000 people. This will continue to grow on May 8, including “lighting the world in teal” – the color that represents ovarian cancer.

World Ovarian Cancer Day has become a global movement in three short years. Uniting patient organizations globally, it has also sparked interest and involvement from healthcare professionals in countries around the world. This year, we celebrate the voice of women in making a difference as we unite and speak with one voice to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. Globally, rejoicing on our unique bond, we will ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.

Please join us by signing the pledge form.

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EDUCATE: Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

— Overview: Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. It is the fifth leading cancer cause of death among U.S. women.

By the Numbers: In 2015, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,290 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,180 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 38 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

Early Warning Signs: Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

Who’s Affected: Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

Risk Reduction: Pregnancy, the long-term use of oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer. Recent research suggests that the most common form of ovarian cancer actually starts in the fallopian tubes. Any woman who is about to undergo gynecologic surgery may wish to discuss with her surgeon the possibility of having her fallopian tubes removed at that time.

Importance of Family History: Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a paternal or maternal family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations. The incidence of ovarian ovarian cancer among Ashkenazi Jewish women is 1-in-40 versus 1-in-72 in the general population. Studies indicate that preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes in women who possess a BRCA gene mutation decreases the risk of ovarian cancer.

Genetic Couseling: If a woman has a family history of breast or ovarian cancer as described above, she may wish to seek genetic counselling. In fact, there is a recent shift in thinking that any woman with ovarian cancer should also seek genetic counselling as an important step for herself and other members of her family.

Other Risk Factors: Other medical conditions associated with an increased ovarian cancer risk include pelvic inflammatory disease and Lynch syndrome. The use of hormonal replacement therapy has been shown to increase ovarian cancer risk. Tobacco smoking increases the risk of mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer. Heavier body weight may be associated with increased risk of ovarian cancer.

Lack of a Reliable Early Screening Test: There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed described above.

Prognosis: If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 15% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure. The majority of cases (61%) are diagnosed at a distant stage, for which the 5-year survival rate is 27%.

Survival Statistics: The 5-year and 10-year relative survival rates for all disease stages combined are only 45% and 35%, respectively. However, survival varies substantially by age; women younger than 65 are twice as likely to survive 5 years as women 65 and older (58% versus 27%).

Please help us to (i) spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer, and (ii) raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

FIGHT: The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one or more of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

INSPIRE: Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly 250,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read the inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

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For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

SU2C Announces the Formation of a New Translational Research Ovarian Cancer “Dream Team”

Ovarian Cancer Community Joins Forces to Fight Deadliest Gynecologic Cancer. The New Stand Up To Cancer Dream Team Will Launch in 2015.

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund, The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, and the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Team Up to Fund New Translational Research Ovarian Cancer “Dream Team.”

 

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A groundbreaking collaboration is underway among three national ovarian cancer organizations: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), and National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC). In partnership with Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C), this group will fund a new Ovarian Cancer Dream Team dedicated to piloting leading-edge, ovarian cancer research that will help patients and save lives.

This partnership was announced tonight by actor Pierce Brosnan on the Stand Up To Cancer’s biennial telecast, and in recognition of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The SU2C-OCRF-OCNA-NOCC Translational Research Dream Team grant will provide funding, over a three-year period, for research associated with this insidious disease.

Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of all the gynecologic cancers. Almost 22,000 American women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2014, and more than 14,000 women will lose their lives to the disease. By collaborating to fund an Ovarian Cancer Dream Team, OCRF, OCNA and NOCC, with SU2C, will further research in the field that can lead to new treatments and improved patient outcomes.

Later this month, SU2C, through its science partner the American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), will issue a “Call for Ideas” from researchers and scientists worldwide. The selected Dream Team will be announced next spring, with research beginning in July 2015.

OCRF“Ovarian Cancer Research Fund has been the leading nonprofit funder of ovarian cancer research for years, and this new collaboration is a wonderful way to mark our 20th anniversary,” said Audra Moran, CEO of Ovarian Cancer Research Fund. “We are excited that the Dream Team grant will continue our long tradition of supporting the most innovative research in the field, while providing scientists with a vital new source of financial support.”

OCNA1Calaneet Balas, CEO of the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance, said: “I am so thrilled that our three organizations are coming together to fight the disease we all care so much about. I believe the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team will be paradigm-shifting for our community, and I cannot wait to see what comes from this new initiative. We’re proud of the work the Alliance has done to secure federal research funding on behalf of all women, but the Dream Team gives us new opportunities for collaboration and innovation.”

NOCC - Logo“We are both proud and excited to join in supporting the Ovarian Cancer Dream Team, the first-ever collaboration of such efforts,” said David Barley, CEO of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. “We are looking forward to being instrumental in furthering ovarian cancer research. The impacts on families and communities continue to make ovarian cancer “More Than a Woman’s Disease®.” By working together we hope to make a difference in the lives of everyone we touch.”

About the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund
The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF), founded in 1994, is the oldest and largest charity in the United States funding ovarian cancer research, and ranks third in overall ovarian cancer research funding only after the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the U.S. Department of Defense (DOD). Its mission is to fund scientific research that leads to more effective identification, treatment, and ultimately a cure for ovarian cancer, as well as related educational and support initiatives. OCRF has invested nearly $60 million in ovarian cancer research through 217 grants to scientists at 65 leading medical centers in the United States. OCRF continues to take the lead in funding the best and most promising ovarian cancer research while supporting women and their loved ones affected by this terrible disease in our quest to end it. For more information, please visit www.ocrf.org.

About the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a powerful voice for everyone touched by ovarian cancer. We connect survivors, women at risk, caregivers, and health providers with the information and resources they need. We ensure that ovarian cancer is a priority for lawmakers and agencies in Washington, DC, and throughout the country. We help our community raise their voices on behalf of every life that has been affected by this disease. For more information, please visit: www.ovariancancer.org

About the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
Since its inception in 1995, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) has been committed to raising awareness, promoting education, and funding research in support of women, families, and communities touched by ovarian cancer. NOCC is well-established as an important national advocate for patients and families struggling with ovarian cancer. NOCC remains steadfast in its mission to save lives by fighting tirelessly to prevent and cure ovarian cancer, and to improve the quality of life for survivors. For more information, please visit: www.ovarian.org.

About Stand Up To Cancer
Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C) raises funds to accelerate the pace of research to get new therapies to patients quickly and save lives now. SU2C, a program of the Entertainment Industry Foundation (EIF) and a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, was established in 2008 by film and media leaders who utilize the industry’s resources to engage the public in supporting a new, collaborative model of cancer research, and to increase awareness about cancer prevention as well as progress being made in the fight against the disease. For more information, please visit: www.standup2cancer.org

U.S. President Barack Obama Proclaims September 2014 As National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month — What Should You Know?

Today, U.S. President Barack Obama designated September 2014 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. “This month, our Nation stands with everyone who has been touched by this disease, and we recognize all those committed to advancing the fight against this cancer through research, advocacy, and quality care. Together, let us renew our commitment to reducing the impact of ovarian cancer and to a future free from cancer in all its forms.”

WhiteHouse-LogoToday, U.S. President Barack Obama designated September 2014 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The Presidential Proclamation is reproduced in full below.

During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ will continue to honor the women who have lost their lives to the disease (including our own Elizabeth “Libby” Remick), support those who are currently battling the disease, and celebrate with those who have beaten the disease. This month, medical doctors, research scientists, and ovarian cancer advocates renew their commitment to develop a reliable early screening test, improve current treatments, discover new groundbreaking therapies, and ultimately, defeat the most lethal gynecologic cancer.

Let us begin this month with several important facts relating to ovarian cancer. Please take time to review these facts — they may save your life or that of a loved one.

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Ovarian Cancer Facts

Lethality. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

Statistics. In 2014, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,980 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,270 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 39 women per day or 1-to-2 women every hour. This loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors — each and every year.

Signs & Symptoms. Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that women with ovarian cancer are more like to experience four persistent, nonspecific symptoms as compared with women in the general population, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation. Note: Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these additional symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women within the general population who do not have the disease.

Age. Although the median age of a woman with ovarian cancer at initial diagnosis is 63, the disease cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women. Ovarian cancer does not discriminate based upon age.

Prevention. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, long-term use of oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Risk Factors.

  • BRCA Gene Mutations. Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Women who test positive for inherited mutations in the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene have an increased lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer. A women can inherit a mutated BRCA gene from her mother or father. Women of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry are at higher risk (1 out of 40) for inherited BRCA gene mutations. Studies suggest that preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes in women possessing BRCA gene mutations can decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Lynch Syndrome. An inherited genetic condition called “hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer” (also called “Lynch syndrome“), which significantly increases the risk of colon/rectal cancer (and also increases the risk of other types of cancers such as endometrial (uterine), stomach, breast, small bowel (intestinal), pancreatic, urinary tract, liver, kidney, and bile duct cancers), also increases ovarian cancer risk.
  • Hormone Therapy. The use of estrogen alone menopausal hormone therapy may increase ovarian cancer risk. The longer estrogen alone replacement therapy is used, the greater the risk may be. The increased risk is less certain for women taking both estrogen and progesterone, although a large 2009 Danish study involving over 900,000 women suggests that combination hormone therapy may increase risk. Because some health benefits have been identified with hormone replacement therapy, a women should seek her doctor’s advice regarding risk verses benefit based on her specific factual case.
  • Smoking. Smoking has been linked to an increase in mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer.

Early Detection. There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear cannot detect ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA-125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above. This early detection strategy has shown promise in a 2013 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center early detection study involving over 4,000 women. Importantly, another large ovarian cancer screening trial that is using similar early detection methods is under way in the United Kingdom, with results expected in 2015. The U.K. study is called “UKCTOCS” (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) and involves over 200,000 women aged 50-74 years.

Treatment.

  • Treatment includes surgery and usually chemotherapy.
  • Surgery usually includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy), the uterus (hysterectomy), and the omentum (fatty tissue attached to some of the organs in the belly), along with biopsies of the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) and peritoneal cavity fluid.
  • In younger women with very early stage tumors who wish to have children, removal of only the involved ovary and fallopian tube may be possible.
  • Among patients with early ovarian cancer, complete surgical staging has been associated with better outcomes.
  • For women with advanced disease, surgically removing all abdominal metastases larger than one centimeter (debulking) enhances the effect of chemotherapy and helps improve survival.
  • For women with stage III ovarian cancer that has been optimally debulked, studies have shown that chemotherapy administered both intravenously and directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneally) improves survival.
  • Patients can enter clinical trials at the start of, during the course of, and even after, their ovarian cancer treatment(s).
  • New types of treatment are being tested in ovarian and solid tumor clinical trials, including “biological therapy” and “targeted therapy.” For example, these types of treatment can exploit biological/molecular characteristics unique to an ovarian cancer patient’s specific tumor classification, or better “train” the patient’s own immune system to identify and attack her tumor cells, without harming normal cells.

Survival. 

  • If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 15% of all cases are detected at an early stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure. The majority of cases (61%) are diagnosed at a distant or later stage of the disease.
  • Overall, the 1-, 5-, and 10-year relative survival of ovarian cancer patients is 75%, 44%, and 34%, respectively.
  • The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.
  • Relative survival varies by age; women younger than 65 are twice as likely to survive 5 years (56%) following diagnosis as compared to women 65 and older (27%).

Help Spread the Word to “B-E-A-T” Ovarian Cancer

Please help us “B-E-A-T” ovarian cancer by spreading the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of the disease throughout the month of September.

beatlogo_308x196B = bloating that is persistent and does not come and go

E = eating less and feeling fuller

A =abdominal or pelvic pain

T = trouble with urination (urgency or frequency)

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. As noted above, early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

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The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 29, 2014

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

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Ovarian cancer is the most deadly of all female reproductive system cancers. This year nearly 22,000 Americans will be diagnosed with this cancer, and more than 14,000 will die from it. The lives of mothers and daughters will be taken too soon, and the pain of this disease will touch too many families. During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we honor the loved ones we have lost to this disease and all those who battle it today, and we continue our work to improve care and raise awareness about ovarian cancer.

When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment is most effective and the chances for recovery are greatest. But ovarian cancer is difficult to detect early — there is no simple and reliable way to screen for this disease, symptoms are often not clear until later stages, and most women are diagnosed without being at high risk. That is why it is important for all women to pay attention to their bodies and know what is normal for them. Women who experience unexplained changes — including abdominal pain, pressure, and swelling — should talk with their health care provider. To learn more about the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer, Americans can visit www.Cancer.gov.

Regular health checkups increase the chance of early detection, and the Affordable Care Act expands this critical care to millions of women. Insurance companies are now required to cover well-woman visits, which provide women an opportunity to talk with their health care provider, and insurers are prohibited from charging a copayment for this service.

For the thousands of women affected by ovarian cancer, the Affordable Care Act also prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage due to a pre-existing condition, such as cancer or a family history of cancer; prevents insurers from denying participation in an approved clinical trial for any life-threatening disease; and eliminates annual and lifetime dollar limits on coverage. And as we work to ease the burden of ovarian cancer for today’s patients, my Administration continues to invest in the critical research that will lead to earlier detection, improved care, and the medical breakthroughs of tomorrow.

Ovarian cancer and the hardship it brings have affected too many lives. This month, our Nation stands with everyone who has been touched by this disease, and we recognize all those committed to advancing the fight against this cancer through research, advocacy, and quality care. Together, let us renew our commitment to reducing the impact of ovarian cancer and to a future free from cancer in all its forms.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2014 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise ovarian cancer awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier lives. I also urge women across our country to talk to their health care providers and learn more about this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-ninth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.

BARACK OBAMA

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Sources:

  • Cancer Facts & Figures 2014. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2014 [PDF file].
  • Presidential Proclamation — National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, 2013, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, August 29, 2014.

National Women’s Health Week — Learn, Spread the Word & Join!

National Women’s Health Week begins on Mother’s Day each year. During this week, individuals, families, communities, and others work to help women learn how to achieve longer, healthier, and safer lives.

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Beginning with Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 11, we celebrate National Women’s Health Week by encouraging the women in our lives – our mothers, grandmothers, aunts, sisters, cousins, friends, and colleagues – to take steps to live healthier, happier lives.

We know that women are often the ones who make sure that everyone – everyone else, that is – in our families are cared for. But too often, women put their own health last.

But the reality is unless you take care of yourself, you cannot really take care of your family. That means eating right, exercising, quitting smoking, and getting the care necessary to stay healthy. In fact, you can now use websites, apps, and mobile devices to help you track and manage your health.

Preventive services are critical to helping us stay healthy, but unfortunately they have not always been affordable. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it is a new day for women’s health by making it easier for women to take control of their own health.

For many women, preventive services like mammograms, birth control, smoking cessation services, and annual well-woman visits are now available without any out-of-pocket costs. Also, as of 2014, the Affordable Care Act requires most insurers to cover maternity benefits as part of the package of essential health benefits.

And insurers can no longer refuse women coverage just because they’re battling cancer or have another pre-existing condition – and they won’t be allowed to charge women more just because they’re women. Being a woman is no longer a pre-existing condition.

It’s not just women with job-based insurance who are benefitting from the Affordable Care Act. The law has greatly expanded access to quality, affordable health coverage to uninsured women and men. More than 8 million Americans – more than 4.3 million of whom are women – have enrolled in affordable health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace. Open enrollment begins again in November.

Learn

On Sunday, May 11, 2014, President Barrack Obama proclaimed May 11 through 17, National’s Women’s Health Week. National Women’s Health Week is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health (OWH). The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. National Women’s Health Week also serves as a time to help women understand what it means to be well.

What does it mean to be a well woman?

It’s a state of mind. It’s being as healthy as you can be. And, most importantly, it’s about taking steps to improve your physical and mental health:

Check out the National Women’s Health Week infographics.

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Download OWH’s National Women’s Health Week infographics.

How can you celebrate National Women’s Health Week?

The OWH invites women across the country to join in the celebration:

Download a copy of the National Women’s Health Week fact sheet.

Spread the Word

Spread the word about National Women’s Health Week to your mom, sisters, daughters, friends, and coworkers! Invite them to join in the celebration by using the resources below.

Join

Join or plan a Meetup

Join us in celebrating National Women’s Health Week by hosting or attending an event in your area. This year, we’re asking you to register your National Women’s Health Week event with Meetup Everywhere.

Join the President’s Challenge

The President’s Challenge is the premier program of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition administered through a co-sponsorship agreement with the Amateur Athletic Union. The President’s Challenge helps people of all ages and abilities increase their physical activity and improve their fitness through research-based information, easy-to-use tools, and friendly motivation.

NWHW-infographic-well-woman-visitCelebrate National Women’s Checkup Day 

National Women’s Checkup Day is led by OWH. Our goal is to encourage women to schedule an annual well-woman visit.

A well-woman visit is a checkup. It’s a time to see your health care provider to:

  • Discuss your health habits and family history.
  • Get or schedule necessary screenings and exams.
  • Set health goals.
  • Schedule your well-woman visit every year.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, it’s considered a preventive service and must be covered by most health plans at no cost to you. During your well-woman visit, you can receive many screenings free of charge, such as screenings for blood pressure, cholesterol, cervical cancer, and more. And if your health care provider says you need more than one well-woman visit in a year, the additional visits are also covered.

When is National Women’s Checkup Day?

The 12th annual National Women’s Checkup Day is today, Monday, May 12, 2014, during National Women’s Health Week.

Why is it important for women to participate in this effort?

Well-woman visits help you get the preventive care you need, including screenings. Screenings can find diseases early, when they are easier to treat. Screenings can also identify other problems and help lower your risk for many conditions, such as heart disease. Under the Affordable Care Act, many women can receive these services without paying a deductible or copay.

How can you participate in this important event?

There are several ways to participate in National Women’s Checkup Day:

 

World Ovarian Cancer Day: One Voice for Every Woman

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. We ask that you join us on World Ovarian Cancer Day (May 8th) in the fight against the most lethal form of gynecologic cancer.

WOCD_Sharable_Graphic_square_2014

LEARN: World Ovarian Cancer Day — May 8, 2014

On May 8, join the global movement to raise awareness about ovarian cancer by pledging to spread the word about the most serious gynecological cancer during the second annual World Ovarian Cancer Day (WOCD). The pledge to pass on the awareness message to at least five friends will bring to life this year’s theme One Voice for Every Woman.

“The number one objective of World Ovarian Cancer Day is to increase awareness of this disease and to connect people internationally with the resources available to educate others,” says Elisabeth Baugh, chair of the WOCD international organizing committee and CEO of Ovarian Cancer Canada. “In our inaugural year, 28 cancer organizations from 18 countries participated in getting the word out, largely through social media. In 2014, we are not only inviting cancer organizations, but all interested groups internationally to register and partner with us. With our pledge, we are also involving individuals worldwide, and empowering them with information about ovarian cancer and a quick and easy way to pass on the word about the disease.”

All of those who sign the World Ovarian Cancer Day pledge at www.ovariancancerday.org will receive an e-card on May 8 with ovarian cancer risk and symptom information. This card is to be passed along to at least five friends, who in turn will be encouraged to pass it along to their friends.

Each year, nearly a quarter of a million women around the world are diagnosed with ovarian cancer and the disease is responsible for 140,000 deaths annually. Statistics show that just 45% of women with ovarian cancer are likely to survive for five years compared with 89% of women with breast cancer. Women in developed and developing countries are similarly affected by ovarian cancer. There is no test for the early detection of ovarian cancer, a disease characterized around the world by a lack of awareness of symptoms and late stage diagnosis.

WOCD’s social media campaign includes the WOCD website, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. To help raise awareness and show international involvement in the inaugural year, partner organizations and individuals from many countries wore teal and posed for photos in front of well-known landmarks holding signs featuring the WOCD “world embrace” logo.

These photographs were shared around the world. Other activities included public awareness events at train and subway stations, and information tables and education sessions at hospitals and cancer centers. These activities will continue to grow on May 8, 2014 along with governmental proclamations and “lighting the world in teal” – the color that represents ovarian cancer. Committee members Annwen Jones, Chief Executive of Target Ovarian Cancer, and Alison Amos, CEO, Ovarian Cancer Australia agree this is a wonderful opportunity. “World Ovarian Cancer Day is an important day for ovarian cancer organizations and communities around the world to unite and speak with one voice to raise awareness of ovarian cancer. We’re proud to be involved with this global initiative and will be passing the awareness message out among those we work with. This activity supports our vision to save lives and ensure that no woman with ovarian cancer walks alone.” “For women living with the disease and their families and friends, World Ovarian Cancer Day has tremendous meaning,” says Baugh. “Through this important day, we will continue to build momentum and a sense of solidarity in the fight against ovarian cancer. Every woman is at some risk for ovarian cancer and awareness remains our best defence.”

WOCDLate_Diagnosis_large1-980x600

EDUCATE: Ovarian Cancer Facts:

Libby’s H*O*P*E* is dedicated to my 26-year old cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, who died from ovarian cancer in July 2008. Our mission is to educate ovarian cancer survivors and their families, as well as the general public, about ovarian cancer under the principle that “information is power.” The key to a significant reduction in deaths from ovarian cancer is early detection. Early detection is best achieved by having women listen to their bodies for the subtle, yet persistent, early warning signs & symptoms of the disease as described below. Together, we can raise money for a reliable early detection test, and ultimately a cure, for ovarian cancer.

Please take time to educate yourself with respect to the important ovarian cancer awareness facts provided below.

–Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

–In 2014, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 21,980 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,270 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 40 women per day. The loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors every year.

–Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that some women may experience persistent, nonspecific symptoms, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation.

–Ovarian cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women.

–Pregnancy and the long-term use of oral contraceptives reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

–Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Inherited mutations in BRCA1/BRCA2 genes increase risk. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry are at higher risk for BRCA gene mutations.

–There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear is used to detect cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above.

–If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 19% of all cases are detected at this stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure.

–The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.

Please help us spread the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of ovarian cancer and raise money for ovarian cancer research. The life you save may be your own or that of a loved one.

FIGHT: The “Holy Trinity” of Major U.S. Ovarian Cancer Organizations

There are three major U.S. ovarian cancer organizations that are working to increase ovarian cancer awareness, and/or raise money to fight the disease. They are listed below. Please consider making a donation to one of these critically important nonprofit organizations.

  • Ovarian Cancer Research Fund

The Ovarian Cancer Research Fund (OCRF) is the largest independent organization in the U.S. that is dedicated exclusively to funding ovarian cancer research– and to finding a cure. Through its three research programs, OCRF funds many of the best researchers and the most innovative projects.

Since 1998, OCRF has awarded 63 leading medical centers 195 grants for ovarian cancer research: an investment totaling over $50 million. OCRF researchers are taking on ovarian cancer from many angles:

— Developing innovative strategies for early detection;

— Discovering genetic polymorphisms that increase risk for ovarian cancer;

— Understanding the underlying genetics and molecular biology of ovarian cancer;

— Identifying new, better targets for treatment;

— Determining how to super-charge a woman’s immune response to better fight ovarian cancer; and

— Deciphering how and why ovarian cancer spreads, and how to stop it.

You can click here to make a donation to OCRF through the Libby’s H*O*P*E*’s donation page.

  • Ovarian Cancer National Alliance

The Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA) is one of the foremost advocates for women with ovarian cancer in the U.S. To advance the interests of women with ovarian cancer, OCNA advocates at a national level for increases in research funding for the development of an early detection test, improved health care practices, and life-saving treatment protocols. OCNA also educates health care professionals and raises public awareness of the risks and symptoms of ovarian cancer.

To make a donation to OCNA, click here.

  • National Ovarian Cancer Coalition

The mission of the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. NOCC is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer.

Through national programs and local Chapter initiatives, the NOCC’s goal is to make more people aware of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. In addition, the NOCC provides information to assist the newly diagnosed patient, to provide hope to survivors, and to support caregivers.

To make a donation to NOCC, click here.

INSPIRE: Everyday Heroes in the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer.

Nearly a quarter million women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year around the world, and the disease also affects their families and friends. Please take time to visit the WOCD website and read inspirational stories about survivors, volunteers, and family members who are overcoming ovarian cancer, as well as the endeavors people are taking on to raise awareness about the disease.

At Libby’s H*O*P*E*, we are amazed each and every day by the inspirational ovarian cancer survivors and family members that we hear about, correspond with, or meet. The stories below represent a small sample of incredible individuals who have successfully fought the disease, as well as those who are currently fighting the disease with courage and grace. There are also stories about women who have died from ovarian cancer, but contributed to ovarian cancer awareness in a unique and special way during life. In addition, there are stories about doctors, advocates, and other inspirational individuals who are clearly making a difference in the fight against the disease.

“Bald is Beautiful,” March 20, 2008.

“Patty Franchi Flaherty Loses Battle to Ovarian Cancer, But Deserves a Long Standing Ovation,” August 19, 2008.

“Oscar Winner Kathy Bates Is an Inspirational Ovarian Cancer Survivor,” February 25, 2009.

— “Rare Form of Ovarian Cancer Not Getting Inspirational 13 Yr. Old Down; You Can Help!,” February 26, 2009.

— “Meet Laurey Masterton, 20-Year Ovarian Cancer Survivor Extraordinaire,” March 20, 2009.

— “The Rock Band ‘N.E.D.’: Their Medical Skills Save Many; Their Music Could Save Thousands,” March 29, 2009.

“A Wish To Build A Dream On,” May 3, 2009.

“Husband’s Love For Wife Inspires A 9,000 Mile Bike Trek To Raise Money For Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Cancer Prevention,” May 14, 2009.

“Gloria Johns Was Told ‘Ovarian Cancer Patients Don’t Live Long Enough … To Have Support Groups;’ She Proved Otherwise,” June 5, 2009.

“Vox Populi:* How Do Your Define “Tragedy?“, January 22, 2010.

— “Smile, Open Your Eyes, Love and Go On,” July 28, 2010.

“PBS Documentary, ‘The Whisper: The Silent Crisis of Ovarian Cancer,'” September 21, 2010.

“Determined Teen Loses Ovarian Cancer Battle, But Her Courage Inspires An Entire Community,” December 28, 2010.

“Mrs. Australia Quest Finalist Veronica Cristovao Is Raising Ovarian Cancer Awareness ‘Down Under'”, February 28, 2011.

— “Whither Thou Goest, I Will Go …”, July 28, 2012.

— “Crowd Funding:” Paying Medical Bills With a Little Help From Your Friends (and Strangers Too!), January 17, 2013.

___________________________

For more information on World Ovarian Cancer Day visit: www.ovariancancerday.org

Facebook: www.facebook.com/WorldOvarianCancerDay

Twitter: @OvarianCancerDY

Pinterest: @OvarianCancerDY

Each participating country is linked through the dedicated website which has been established for World Ovarian Cancer Day. To find out more about activities in each country, please contact the local organization directly through the website at http://www.ovariancancerday.org/get-involved/

Broadway Star Valisia LeKae Debuts Ovarian Cancer PSA in Times Square

 “God has given me another role to play and like all my previous roles, I plan to go all in, only this time I plan to Win!” — Broadway star Valisia LeKae

Broadway star Valisia LeKae is a 2013 Tony Award nominee for “Best Actress in a Musical” for her performance as Diana Ross in “Motown: The Musical.”In addition to “Motown: The Musical,” LeKae has appeared on Broadway in “The Book of Mormon,” “Ragtime,” “110 in the Shade.” and “The Threepenny Opera.”

In possibly the most important role of her life, Valisia is a passionate ovarian cancer survivor, who wants to educate women of all ages about the importance of diagnosing and treating the disease in its early stages.

LeKae’s Ovarian Cancer Journey

Valisia’s ovarian cancer journey began in September 2013 when she was diagnosed with a supposedly benign cyst on her right ovary that was associated with endometriosis (called an “endometrioma“). Over a short period of time, LeKae’s cyst grew rapidly, and ultimately, it required surgical removal. Based upon a pathologist’s examination of the cyst that was removed from LeKae during surgery, she was diagnosed with ovarian clear cell carcinoma (OCCC) in December 2013.

In its purest form, OCCC is an aggressive form of epithelial ovarian cancer that is often chemoresistant. I learned this fact firsthand after my 26-year cousin, Elizabeth “Libby” Remick, lost her battle to OCCC in July 2008. This website is dedicated to Libby’s memory.

Valisia LeKae shared her ovarian cancer diagnosis publicly through her Facebook page with the stated intent to educate women of all ages about the disease, including those who have no family history of ovarian cancer:

“On, Nov 22, 2013, I had laparoscopic surgery to remove an endometrioma from my right ovary. A sample was taken from that endometrioma and on December 2, 2013, my pathology results reveled that I was positive for Ovarian Clear Cell Carcinoma, Ovarian Cancer. After receiving a second opinion it was confirmed by my Gynecologic Oncologist on Dec 9, 2013, that the diagnosis had been correct.

Per the advice of my doctor, I will need to have another surgery (unilateral salpingo-oophorectomy) as well as chemotherapy. I am scheduled for Thursday (December 19, 2013 ) and chemotherapy soon thereafter.

‘Ovarian Cancer mainly develops in older women. About half of the women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. It is more common in white women that African-American women (Cancer.org).’

As a 34 year old, African American woman, I feel that it is important that I share my story in order to educate and encourage others about this disease and the fight against it.

2013 has been full of blessings, from being nominated for a prestigious Tony Award for my portrayal of “Diana Ross” in Motown The Musical as well as many other accolades. God has given me another role to play and like all my previous roles, I plan to go all in, only this time I plan to Win!”

On April 29, 2014, Valisia announced publicly on Twitter that her ovarian cancer was in complete remission (technically known as “no evidence of disease” or “N.E.D.”) by using the celebratory hashtag “#CANCERFREE.”

 

“Know Your Body, Know Your Risk” Ovarian Cancer Awareness Campaign and Public Service Announcement

Today, Ms. LeKae joined her gynecological oncologist David Fishman, M.D., Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at The Mount Sinai Hospital, and Director and Founder of the Mount Sinai Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment Program, and executives from Toshiba, for the debut of a 30-second Public Service Announcement (PSA) promoting Ovarian Cancer Awareness. The ovarian cancer PSA premiere was broadcasted this afternoon on the Toshiba Vision Screens located at 46th Street and 7th Avenue in New York City. The iconic Toshiba screens are located in Times Square.

Rising 400 feet above street level in the visually dynamic surroundings of colorful Times Square billboards, striking black and white portraits of the stunning Broadway performer (photographed by Peter Hapak) will be broadcast on the Toshiba Vision screens as part of a two-week Ovarian Cancer Awareness public service campaign,  entitled “Know Your Body, Know Your Risk.” The ovarian cancer PSA was produced by Spotco with assistance from the Mount Sinai Health System.

The Mount Sinai Ovarian Cancer Risk Assessment Program PSA will continue to broadcast every six minutes, 24-hours per day through May 15th.

“Dr. Fishman and the Mount Sinai team helped to save my life, so I want to give back by helping to educate and encourage others about this disease and the fight against it,” said Valisia LeKae.

While only the 11th most common cancer among U.S. women, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death among women. Ovarian cancer is the deadliest form of gynecologic cancer. In 2014, approximately 22,000 U.S. women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and 14,000 will die from the disease. To learn more about ovarian cancer, click here.

*          *          *

We would like to take this opportunity to thank Valisia LeKae for using her celebrity to raise public awareness about the most lethal gynecologic cancer. Valisia’s ovarian cancer advocacy will certainly not garner her a Tony Award, but in the eyes of all ovarian cancer survivors and their family members, it represents not only a job well done, but a life well spent.

Sources:

  • “Broadway Star Valisia LeKae To Debut Ovarian Cancer PSA,” LooktotheStars.org, May 1, 2014.
  •  “Valisia LeKae Reveals Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis, Withdraws from Broadway’s MOTOWN THE MUSICAL,” Broadwayworld.com, December 17, 2013.

 

U.S. President Barack Obama Proclaims September 2013 As National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month — What Should You Know?

Yesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama designated September 2013 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. “… During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we lend our support to everyone touched by this disease, we remember those we have lost, and we strengthen our resolve to better prevent, detect, treat, and ultimately defeat ovarian cancer…. This month, we extend a hand to all women battling ovarian cancer. We pledge our support to them, to their families, and to the goal of defeating this disease. …”

WhiteHouse-LogoYesterday, U.S. President Barack Obama designated September 2013 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. The Presidential Proclamation is reproduced in full below.

During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Libby’s H*O*P*E*™ will honor the women who have lost their lives to the disease, support those who are currently battling the disease, and celebrate with those who have beaten the disease. This month, medical doctors, research scientists, and ovarian cancer advocates renew their commitment to develop a reliable early screening test, improve current treatments, discover new groundbreaking therapies, and ultimately, defeat the most lethal gynecologic cancer.

Let us begin this month with several important facts relating to ovarian cancer. Please take time to review these facts — they may save your life or that of a loved one.

didyouknow

Ovarian Cancer Facts

Lethality. Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

Statistics. In 2013, the American Cancer Society (ACS) estimates that there will be approximately 22,240 new ovarian cancer cases diagnosed in the U.S. ACS estimates that 14,030 U.S. women will die from the disease, or about 38 women per day or 1-to-2 women every hour. This loss of life is equivalent to 28 Boeing 747 jumbo jet crashes with no survivors — every year.

Signs & Symptoms. Ovarian cancer is not a “silent” disease; it is a “subtle” disease. Recent studies indicate that women with ovarian cancer are more like to experience four persistent, nonspecific symptoms as compared with women in the general population, such as (i) bloating, (ii) pelvic or abdominal pain, (iii) difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, or (iv) urinary urgency or frequency. Women who experience such symptoms daily for more than a few weeks should seek prompt medical evaluation. Note: Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. However, these additional symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women within the general population who do not have the disease.

Age. Although the median age of a woman with ovarian cancer at initial diagnosis is 63, the disease cancer can afflict adolescent, young adult, and mature women. Ovarian cancer does not discriminate based upon age.

Prevention. Pregnancy, breastfeeding, long-term use of oral contraceptives, and tubal ligation reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Risk Factors.

  • BRCA Gene Mutations. Women who have had breast cancer, or who have a family history of breast cancer or ovarian cancer may have increased risk. Women who test positive for inherited mutations in the BRCA-1 or BRCA-2 gene have an increased lifetime risk of breast and ovarian cancer. A women can inherit a mutated BRCA gene from her mother or father. Women of Ashkenazi (Eastern European) Jewish ancestry are at higher risk (1 out of 40) for inherited BRCA gene mutations. Studies suggest that preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes in women possessing BRCA gene mutations can decrease the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Lynch Syndrome. An inherited genetic condition called “hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer” (also called “Lynch syndrome“), which significantly increases the risk of colon/rectal cancer (and also increases the risk of other types of cancers such as endometrial (uterine), stomach, breast, small bowel (intestinal), pancreatic, urinary tract, liver, kidney, and bile duct cancers), also increases ovarian cancer risk.
  • Hormone Therapy. The use of estrogen alone menopausal hormone therapy may increase ovarian cancer risk. The longer estrogen alone replacement therapy is used, the greater the risk may be. The increased risk is less certain for women taking both estrogen and progesterone, although a large 2009 Danish study involving over 900,000 women suggests that combination hormone therapy may increase risk. Because some health benefits have been identified with hormone replacement therapy, a women should seek her doctor’s advice regarding risk verses benefit based on her specific factual case.
  • Smoking. Smoking has been linked to an increase in mucinous epithelial ovarian cancer.

Early Detection. There is no reliable screening test for the detection of early stage ovarian cancer. Pelvic examination only occasionally detects ovarian cancer, generally when the disease is advanced. A Pap smear cannot detect ovarian cancer. However, the combination of a thorough pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and a blood test for the tumor marker CA-125 may be offered to women who are at high risk of ovarian cancer and to women who have persistent, unexplained symptoms like those listed above. This early detection strategy has shown promise in a 2013 University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center early detection study involving over 4,000 women. Importantly, another large ovarian cancer screening trial that is using similar early detection methods is under way in the United Kingdom, with results expected in 2015. The U.K. study is called “UKCTOCS” (UK Collaborative Trial of Ovarian Cancer Screening) and involves over 200,000 women aged 50-74 years.

Treatment.

  • Treatment includes surgery and usually chemotherapy.
  • Surgery usually includes removal of one or both ovaries and fallopian tubes (salpingo-oophorectomy), the uterus (hysterectomy), and the omentum (fatty tissue attached to some of the organs in the belly), along with biopsies of the peritoneum (lining of the abdominal cavity) and peritoneal cavity fluid.
  • In younger women with very early stage tumors who wish to have children, removal of only the involved ovary and fallopian tube may be possible.
  • Among patients with early ovarian cancer, complete surgical staging has been associated with better outcomes.
  • For women with advanced disease, surgically removing all abdominal metastases larger than one centimeter (debulking) enhances the effect of chemotherapy and helps improve survival.
  • For women with stage III ovarian cancer that has been optimally debulked, studies have shown that chemotherapy administered both intravenously and directly into the abdomen (intraperitoneally) improves survival.
  • Patients can enter clinical trials at the start of, during the course of, and even after, their ovarian cancer treatment(s).
  • New types of treatment are being tested in ovarian and solid tumor clinical trials, including “biological therapy” and “targeted therapy.” For example, these types of treatment can exploit biological/molecular characteristics unique to an ovarian cancer patient’s specific tumor classification, or better “train” the patient’s own immune system to identify and attack her tumor cells, without harming normal cells.

Survival. 

  • If diagnosed at the localized stage, the 5-year ovarian cancer survival rate is 92%; however, only about 15% of all cases are detected at an early stage, usually fortuitously during another medical procedure. The majority of cases (61%) are diagnosed at a distant or later stage of the disease.
  • Overall, the 1-, 5-, and 10-year relative survival of ovarian cancer patients is 75%, 44%, and 34%, respectively.
  • The 10-year relative survival rate for all disease stages combined is only 38%.
  • Relative survival varies by age; women younger than 65 are twice as likely to survive 5 years (56%) following diagnosis as compared to women 65 and older (27%).

Help Spread the Word To “B-E-A-T” Ovarian Cancer

Please help us “B-E-A-T” ovarian cancer by spreading the word about the early warning signs & symptoms of the disease throughout the month of September.

beatlogo_308x196B = bloating that is persistent and does not come and go

E = eating less and feeling fuller

A =abdominal or pelvic pain

T = trouble with urination (urgency or frequency)

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. As noted above, early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.

__________________________________________________________

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release August 30, 2013

BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

A PROCLAMATION

obama_signingEach September, America calls attention to a deadly disease that affects thousands of women across our country. This year, over 22,000 women will develop ovarian cancer, and more than half that number of women will die of this disease. During National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we lend our support to everyone touched by this disease, we remember those we have lost, and we strengthen our resolve to better prevent, detect, treat, and ultimately defeat ovarian cancer.

Because ovarian cancer often goes undetected until advanced stages, increasing awareness of risk factors is critical to fighting this disease. Chances of developing ovarian cancer are greater in women who are middle-aged or older, women with a family history of breast or ovarian cancer, and those who have had certain types of cancer in the past. I encourage all women, especially those at increased risk, to talk to their doctors. For more information, visit www.Cancer.gov.

My Administration is investing in research to improve our understanding of ovarian cancer and develop better methods for diagnosis and treatment. As we continue to implement the Affordable Care Act, women with ovarian cancer will receive increased access to health care options, protections, and benefits. Thanks to this law, insurance companies can no longer set lifetime dollar limits on coverage or cancel coverage because of errors on paperwork. By 2014, the health care law will ban insurers from setting restrictive annual caps on benefits and from charging women higher rates simply because of their gender. Additionally, insurance companies will be prohibited from denying coverage or charging higher premiums to patients with pre-existing conditions, including ovarian cancer.

This month, we extend a hand to all women battling ovarian cancer. We pledge our support to them, to their families, and to the goal of defeating this disease.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2013 as National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. I call upon citizens, government agencies, organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to raise ovarian cancer awareness and continue helping Americans live longer, healthier lives. I also urge women across our country to talk to their health care providers and learn more about this disease.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirtieth day of August, in the year of our Lord two thousand thirteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-eighth.

BARACK OBAMA

__________________________________________________________

Sources:

  • Cancer Facts & Figures 2013. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2013 [PDF file].
  • Presidential Proclamation — National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, 2013, Office of the Press Secretary, The White House, August 30, 2013.