Christie Johnson's Q & A on ovarian cancer with Seattle doctor

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by CHRISTIE JOHNSON / KING 5 News

NWCN.com

Posted on September 20, 2011 at 9:49 AM

Updated Friday, Jan 4 at 10:45 AM

Eighty thousand women will be diagnosed with a gynecologic cancer in the United States this year. Of those, over 20,000 women will have ovarian cancer and nearly 14,000 will die of the disease. 

Ovarian cancer has been called the "silent killer," but many physicians say there are symptoms even before a patient realizes it.
 
The most common symptoms are bloating, persistent abdominal pain, feeling full quickly and urinary frequency.
 
"You need to bring your doctor's attention to those symptoms if they are new for you," said Dr. Elizabeth Swisher, gynecologic oncologist.
 
Physicians advocate knowing your family history on both sides as that is one of the biggest risk factors as well as persistent abdominal pain, which can indicate something abnormal as well. 
 
Many physicians say that birth control pills are one of the things to consider when it comes to prevention.
 
"Birth control pills are one of the most effective ways of reducing the risk of ovarian and uterine cancer. If you use birth control pills for five years it reduces your risk by half," said Dr. Swisher.
 
Dr. Swisher says the most important thing is knowing your own body, being in-tune with any changes that are occurring and being an advocate for your own health as many of these symptoms are vague and can be indicative of several conditions.

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