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Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Look for these signs

Ovarian and Prostate Cancer Awareness Month: Look for these signs

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. Celebrate by pinning on a teal ribbon for ovarian cancer and light blue ribbon for prostate cancer and learning the facts. The West Jefferson Medical Center team shares what you need to know below.

Ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer happens when abnormal cells grow on one or both ovaries, almond-sized glands that sit on each side of the uterus and make and store eggs for reproduction. About 18,500 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the United States. It’s the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths in women in Louisiana.

Risk factors for ovarian cancer

Factors that can raise your risk of developing ovarian cancer include:

  • A history of breast, colorectal or uterine cancer
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Certain genetic conditions, such as Lynch syndrome
  • Difficulty getting pregnant or never giving birth
  • Endometriosis
  • Family history of ovarian cancer, especially in your mother, sister or daughter
  • Inheriting a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Older age or being postmenopausal
  • Taking hormone replacement therapy (HRT)

10 signs and symptoms

Ovarian cancer can cause symptoms in the early stages, but signs typically become worse or more noticeable as the cancer grows or spreads.

  1. Back or abdominal pain
  2. Bloating or passing gas more often than usual
  3. Changes in your period, irregular periods or vaginal bleeding after menopause
  4. Difficulty eating or feeling full without eating much
  5. Extreme tiredness, or fatigue
  6. Noticeable changes in bathroom habits, including constipation or needing to urinate more often or urgently
  7. Pain during sex
  8. Unusual vaginal discharge
  9. Upset stomach
  10. Weight loss for no known reason

Other health conditions can cause similar signs and symptoms. Pay attention to any changes in what’s normal for you and watch out for symptoms that don’t go away or occur about 12 times a month or more.

Screening and treatment for ovarian cancer

There’s no standard ovarian cancer screening. If you notice possible symptoms, talk with your primary care provider. They can order tests to confirm or rule out ovarian cancer. If cancer is detected, West Jefferson Medical Center specialists can help. Early detection matters. Survival rates improve the earlier cancer is detected and treated.

Prostate cancer

Prostate cancer is when abnormal cells grow in the prostate gland. This walnut-sized gland is positioned just below the bladder and makes some of the fluid in semen. Outside of skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men. In the United States, roughly 201,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer yearly. It’s the second leading cause of cancer death among men in Louisiana.

Know the risk factors

Many factors may raise the risk of developing prostate cancer, including:

  • Being African American
  • Certain inherited conditions, including Lynch syndrome
  • Family history of prostate cancer, especially in your father, brother or son
  • Having a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
  • Older age—prostate cancer is rare before age 50
  • Eating a diet high in saturated fat from red meat, processed meat and dairy products

10 prostate cancer signs and symptoms to look for

Early-stage prostate cancer usually doesn’t have any symptoms. Later-stage prostate cancer may cause:

  1. Blood in semen or urine
  2. Burning or pain when you urinate
  3. Constant pain in your back, hips or pelvis
  4. Difficulty starting the stream of urine
  5. Erectile dysfunction (ED)
  6. Feeling like you can’t empty your bladder completely
  7. Frequent urination that’s often worse at night
  8. Interrupted or weak urine stream
  9. Numbness or weakness in the feet or legs
  10. Pain when you ejaculate

Screening for prostate cancer

Two tests help screen for prostate cancer: a prostate specific antigen (PSA) blood test and a digital rectal exam (DRE). Beginning at age 50, men at average risk should talk to their provider about the benefits and risks of prostate cancer screening.

To learn more about ovarian cancer, connect with a West Jefferson Medical Center Women’s Health specialist. Talk with a West Jefferson Medical Center urologist for more information about prostate cancer.