Cancer of the ovaries is not the most common cancer among women, but it is among the most deadly.
Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. Iowa is in the top 10 states for ovarian cancer deaths.
Certainly, one reason for this is a lack of effective screening or early detection tests for ovarian cancer. Women in the first stages of cancer of the ovaries may have no symptoms, so they don’t consult with their clinic, and the cancer continues to grow and spread.
In response to this, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has chosen Iowa for a project to improve practices of primary doctors and gynecologists in our state in regard to decreasing the death rate due to ovarian cancer.
Health histories show some women are less likely to get ovarian cancer. There is a lower risk among women who used birth control pills for more than five years, gave birth, breastfed, and/or had surgery removing ovaries or had a tubal ligation, that is, had their fallopian tubes tied. These things do not guarantee the woman will not get ovarian cancer, but they seem to help.
The CDC project will encourage clinics to educate patients on these points. For more information, see the Iowa Department of Public health website.
Ann Cochran is the health navigation coordinator in the Dallas County Public Health Department.