Ovarian Cancer: Black Women & The Survival Gap

side profile of african american woman(BlackDoctor.org) — Ovarian cancer is a serious and under-recognized threat to women’s health. Though it is more prevalent in white women, African American women are more likely to die from it than any other race. Currently, 50% of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer die from it within five years; among African American women, only 46% survive five years or more.

What you need to know

  • 90% of women are able to be cured because of earlier detection.
  • Many women diagnosed with this form of cancer do not have regular symptoms.
  • Ovarian cancer is treated through the combination of chemotherapy, radiation and surgery.
  • African American women are least likely to undergo genetic counseling, even though it is highly recommended.
  • Regular pelvic exams are strongly encouraged for early detection.
  • 75% of cases will spread to abdominal area by the time it is detected.

5 Ways To Prevent Ovarian Cancer

1. Go on the Pill
Researchers estimate that taking birth-control pills can cut your risk of developing ovarian cancer by as much as 50 percent. The longer you take the pill, the more your risk is reduced. Studies show that the greatest preventative effects are attained after oral contraceptives have been used continually for five years or more. However, you should remember that certain genetic mutations combined with the use of oral contraceptives may mean an increased risk of developing breast cancer. Women with the BRCA mutation should understand the breast-cancer risks associated with long-term use of birth-control pills.

2. Work out, Eat Right, Reduce Risk
If you eat a lot of fiber, limit intake of fats and meats and alcohol intake, you’re on the right track. You should also exercise to achieve and maintain a healthy body-mass index. Studies show that exercising at least three times a week can help prevent ovarian cancer.

3. Ask for Analysis
If you have a history of ovarian cancer in your family, ask a gene therapist to conduct an analysis. This procedure scrutinizes your genetic makeup to determine whether you’re carrying mutations known to be linked to ovarian cancer. While it’s a daunting prospect for some women, it can also be a vital preventative tool and help you make more informed decisions about lifestyle choices that can reduce your overall risk.

4. Tubal ligation
Researchers aren’t sure why, but if you’ve had children and you’re going to get your tubes tied, you’re also reducing your risk of developing ovarian cancer. Scientists speculate that the reason for this may be linked to the inability of carcinogens entering the body through the vagina to reach your ovaries after tubal ligation has been implemented.

5. Raise a Family
“Be fruitful and multiply” is excellent advice for women looking to reduce their risk of ovarian cancer. If you have a child before the age of 30, you’ve significantly reduced the chance of developing the condition. Women who have multiple children, particularly those who breastfeed, can slash their ovarian-cancer risk by as much as 60 percent.