Whitesburg KY

Free screening for ovarian cancer offered

More than 79 percent of victims of ovarian cancer aren’t diagnosed until it’s in the late, hard-to-treat stages. The reason is that early ovarian cancer produces no symptoms so the disease is often advanced by the time it’s diagnosed. It is often thought of as a “silent killer”.

Ovarian cancer is one of the most common gynecologic malignancies in the United States. This year approximately 25,400 U.S. women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and about 14,000 will die of the disease. Therefore, medical research has focused on methods for the early detection of this disease.

When detected early, there is a five-year survival rate of 95 percent, but survival rates drop quickly when it is found in its advanced stages. Experts say these odds could change significantly if more attention was paid to the symptoms of ovarian cancer.

The most common symptoms of this type of cancer are:

• A feeling of bloating

• Increasing abdominal size

• Pelvic pressure.

Although many women experiencing such symptoms will not be diagnosed as actually having ovarian cancer, it is recommended that all women noting the described symptoms consult their physicians as soon as possible.

Women at highest risk to develop ovarian cancer are over the age of 50 or have a relative with ovarian cancer. Medical research has focused on methods for the early detection of this disease.

Ovarian cancer screening is recommended at yearly intervals and is performed at the University of Kentucky’s Markey Cancer Center, free of charge. It is performed using ultrasound (sound waves). These sound waves form an accurate picture of each ovary, and even small tumors can be detected. The screening procedure is performed by female lab technicians. It is painless and takes 4-10 minutes. The screening image is similar to a pregnancy ultra-sound and participants are told the same day if a problem is found. All women over 50 years of age are automatically eligible for the screening, unless they have had a complete hysterectomy. If there is a medically documented family history of ovarian cancer, women 25 years of age may be screened.

The Letcher County Extension Office in Whitesburg, with the support of the Extension Homemakers, promotes participation in the Ovarian Cancer Screening Program at UK by providing transportation each month for women to go to the university for the screening. There are now approximately 200 Letcher County women who are having the screening done each year. If you are interested in learning more about the program, or if you would like to sign up to be screened, call the Letcher County Extension Office at 633-2362.

Special thanks to Whitesburg Walmart for its financial support of the Ovarian Cancer Screening Program. This year it provided $500 in funds to match the amount the Extension Homemakers raised at their annual bake sale. Last year local Homemakers raised a total of $4,538.81 through various activities in support of the program. This was the second largest amount raised by one county and the Homemakers received awards at their state meeting for their hard work.

One of their projects this year will be the old time country dinner at the Extension Office (478 Extension Dr. in Whitesburg) on Wednesday, Sept. 23 (Whitesburg Day of the Mountain Heritage Festival) from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Come on by and enjoy some good food (soup beans, kraut and wieners, cornbread, desserts and drinks), fun and fellowship.

Educational programs of Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

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