Raising awareness about ovarian cancer is crucial; no effective screening test exists (many women believe the Pap test can detect this disease, but it can’t), and the symptoms are hard to detect. Here’s an update on the research front: Women with the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation, who have a high risk of ovarian cancer, can reduce their risk of death before age 70 by 77 percent if they have their ovaries removed. The research, published online in February in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, suggests that women with BRCA 1 who have this procedure by age 35 show the greatest benefit’reducing their risk of ovarian, Fallopian tube or peritoneal cancer by 80 percent. The study’s lead author, the world-renowned Dr. Steven Narod of Women’s College Research Institute in Toronto, shared this exciting news at the Love Her fundraiser for Ovarian Cancer Canada, held on Feb. 27 in Toronto. (Love Her was also held in Calgary on March 6, and the Vancouver event is May 28.)
As Love Her’s national magazine partner, Best Health was at the Toronto event to hear a moving speech by Bailey Urquhart, a 25-year-old from Hamilton, Ont., who in February 2013 was diagnosed with stage III ovarian cancer. She had a complete hysterectomy (including removal of her ovaries) and underwent chemotherapy. ‘You know your body best, and it’s important to be your own advocate,’ Urquhart told the audience. She also reinforced the importance of being aware of the symptoms (including pelvic or abdominal pain that lasts longer than three weeks). In her case, her symptoms were overlooked by doctors time and time again.