No screening test exists for ovarian cancer, yet a recent survey reveals that numerous women incorrectly assume that pap smears can identify the disease, thereby putting themselves in danger. Katya Lezin has received an ovarian cancer diagnosis twice, initially at the age of 46. “My offspring were 11, 15, and 17 at that moment, and I was confronting the very tangible likelihood that I might not witness them reach adulthood,” she expressed. The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer stands at 50 percent. However, if detected at Stage 1, the survival rate jumps to over 90 percent. Astonishingly, a new nationwide survey disclosed that 7 out of 10 women erroneously think that pap smears can test for ovarian cancer. “Pap smears are designed to screen for cervical cancer exclusively,” clarified Dr. Ifeyinwa Stitt, the Medical Director at Luminis Health.
Dr. Stitt mentioned that current guidelines suggest pap smears every three to five years, leading many women to forgo annual examinations that could detect early signs of ovarian cancer, such as pelvic discomfort, bloating, or reduced appetite. “By avoiding yearly visits, we miss the chance to identify some of these understated symptoms,” Dr. Stitt noted. For individuals with a family history of the disease, genetic assessments can pinpoint risk factors. Lezin possesses the BRCA 1 gene mutation, which elevates the likelihood of various cancers, including breast cancer. This information can be instrumental in both treatment and preventive measures. “I chose to undergo a preventive double mastectomy, which was entirely covered by my insurance due to my gene mutation,” Lezin stated.
Over a decade after her initial diagnosis, Lezin serves as living evidence that surviving ovarian cancer is possible. “Let’s equip ourselves with accurate information and take a proactive approach to our well-being before receiving that phone call that delivers unsettling news,” Dr. Stitt advised. The National Cancer Institute estimates that nearly 20,000 women will receive an ovarian cancer diagnosis this year.