Sept. 23, 2008 | A group of ovarian cancer survivors is hoping to use its experience with the disease to educate other women about its signs and symptoms.
Members of the Arkansas Ovarian Cancer Coalition sponsored its Second Annual Ovarian Cancer Awareness Rally at the state Capitol on Sept. 9. Survivors, their family members and community advocates turned out to show their support and hear about ways that women can be proactive in their own health care.
The rally was held in conjunction with the
“There are tremendous reasons to be hopeful about the progress we are making in treating ovarian cancer,” Alexander “Sandy” Burnett, M.D., told the group. Burnett is chief of the Division of Gynecologic Oncology in the UAMS Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute. “However, we must make gains in our diagnosis of this disease in its earliest stages.”
If found in its first stage, ovarian cancer has a cure rate of 95 percent, Burnett said. He went on to explain that because its symptoms often mimic those of gastrointestinal disorders, they are often overlooked until the disease has significantly progressed.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include persistent bloating, pelvic or stomach pain, feeling full quickly after eating, and frequent urination. “If you are experiencing these symptoms, you should insist on a rectal-vaginal exam or an ultrasound to rule out ovarian cancer,” Burnett said. “These tests are low cost and very effective.”
Susan Gibson, an ovarian cancer survivor from
The program also included the reading by Arkansas State Rep. Wilhelmina Lewellen of a proclamation naming September Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month in
A luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion followed the rally. Gov. Mike Beebe addressed the group of about 140, telling the story of his mother’s experience with ovarian cancer. Anna Cox, a licensed clinical social worker, of the Mindfulness Center for Healthy Living was the keynote speaker.
According to the American Cancer Society, about 22,430 women were diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2007. It ranks fifth as the cause for cancer death among women.