Brookside, New Jersey (PRWEB) June 05, 2013
Angelina Jolie made headlines recently when she announced that she plans to eventually have her ovaries removed to prevent ovarian cancer. She knew from watching her 56-year old mother lose a long battle with the disease that she didn’t want to experience the illness that “took her away from us.”
Perhaps her decision, which she announced after undergoing a mastectomy to lower the risk of breast cancer, will spur other women at high risk to be tested for the BRCA gene. Medical experts say women who have had pre-menopausal breast cancer or have had ovarian cancer, or a strong family history of breast/ovarian cancer, should consider having the test.
Yet even if the test reveals a woman does not have a mutated BRCA gene, which can raise breast and ovarian cancer risk, it does not rule out her developing cancer. That’s why it’s critical that women stay in touch with their bodies and be proactive about their health, says Jane MacNeil, president of Turn The Towns Teal,® a NJ-based national ovarian cancer awareness nonprofit.
Ovarian cancer kills more women than all other gynecologic malignancies combined.
Nearly 23,000 women were diagnosed in the United States last year and 15,500 died. Occasionally, ovarian cancer is not accompanied by symptoms until the disease is advanced. At other times, the early signs of ovarian cancer—bloating, abdominal pain, pelvic pressure or feeling full quickly—can resemble those of many other common health conditions, which is why many women disregard the symptoms until the disease is advanced.
“Women should have annual physicals and also tell their doctor about any unusual symptoms that last daily for more than two weeks,” said Dr. Ami Vaidya, director of Minimally Invasive and Robotic Surgery at New Jersey’s John Theurer Cancer Center at Hackensack University Medical Center, New Jersey. “Early detection increases your chances of survival. Early detection can save your life.” According to the American Cancer Society, when ovarian cancer is found early at a localized stage, about 94 percent of patients live longer than five years after diagnosis. However, most cases are diagnosed in the later stages.
By the time ovarian cancer is considered as a possible cause of symptoms, it usually has spread beyond the ovaries. “Still, prompt attention to symptoms may improve the odds of early diagnosis and successful treatment,” said MacNeil.
MacNeil’s organization, founded in 2007 by her late sister-in-law Gail, works tirelessly to promote awareness and early detection of ovarian cancer. Each September, coinciding with National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Turn The Towns Teal volunteers across the country tie biodegradable, made-in-the-USA ribbons in and around town centers—on trees, mailboxes, cars and other objects—to make people aware of ovarian cancer and its subtle symptoms. Volunteers also distribute symptom cards and literature to libraries, health clubs, church groups, shopping malls and stores.
“Some volunteers ‘teal’ to raise awareness, some to support someone fighting ovarian cancer and some in remembrance of a person they loved,” says MacNeil. “It makes people feel they are doing something, anything, to help prevent any other woman from developing this insidious disease.”
If you are interested in volunteering this year, contact Turn The Towns Teal at http://www.turnthetownsteal.org to register.
Turn The Towns Teal® is a national nonprofit that was founded in 2007 by Gail MacNeil of Chatham, NJ. The campaign goes on in her name and in her honor. For more information about Gail’s story and how to become a Turn TheTowns Teal volunteer, go to /http://www.turnthetownsteal.org.