The American Cancer Society has deemed September national Ovarian Cancer Awareness month.
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most commonly diagnosed cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death.
Dr. Alma Littles, a local family physician, said most women who have been diagnosed find out in the later stages.
“Because the ovaries are so deep in the body, it’s hard to detect ovarian cancer,” Littles said. “By the time it is detectable, the damage is so significant that there’s not much else to do.”
Symptoms usually range from abdominal swelling, or bloating, to pelvic pressure and stomach pain. Littles said women should be more conscious.
“Women should pay attention to any unusual or reoccurring symptoms,” Littles said. “Anything that seems abnormal or pains that go on for weeks should be examined by a physician.”
According to statistics posted on the American Cancer Society website, women who are over the age of 40 or pre- or postmenopausal are 50 percent more likely to become victims of ovarian cancer. The older a woman gets, the more likely she is to get ovarian cancer.
The likelihood of women younger than 40 developing this form of cancer is slim-to-none. One of the biggest determining factors was genetics, according to Littles.
“Women should really pay attention to family history,” Littles said. “If it runs in the family, a woman is more likely to contract the disease.”
Myah Clayton, 21, a fourth-year health care management student agreed. She said more women should try to visit their doctors regularly.
“I think women should take health care more seriously,” said Clayton, a Tallahassee native “Cancer can affect anybody, especially women whose family has a history of it. Cancer can be devastating and can really take a toll on family members.”
The cancer society also related that women who use oral contraceptives such as birth control pills and maintain a healthy diet or who have had a hysterectomy or tubal ligation are 50 percent less likely to contract the disease.