Study Finds Lack of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Heightens Mortality Worldwide
ATLANTA: A recently published study of more than 1,500 women shows a "woeful" lack of awareness of the symptoms, causes and treatments for ovarian cancer.
With almost 250,000 new cases reported annually worldwide, ovarian cancer is the seventh-most common cancer diagnosis and the eighth-most common cause of female death worldwide.
The survey revealed women with ovarian cancer believe their treating physicians did not provide adequate consultation and information at the time of diagnosis, and that there are wide-ranging regional disparities in the use of family history and genetic testing, factors which could help catch the disease earlier and help boost survival rates.
For instance, women in the U.S. waited more than three months on average after first experiencing symptoms before visiting a doctor. However, they were also the most likely to undergo genetic testing. In contrast, women in Japan have one of the shortest times to diagnosis, but very little access to genetic testing.
The lack of awareness and delay in treatment contributes to the study's conservative estimate that one in six women (40,000) will die within three months after diagnosis of the disease.
"This report is truly troubling and shows how much more needs to be done to make women and medical professionals aware of the science and symptoms surrounding ovarian cancer," says attorney Leigh O'Dell.
A partner in the Beasley Allen law firm, Ms. O'Dell is Co-Lead Counsel for consolidated Multidistrict Litigation in New Jersey federal court concerning talcum powder's link to ovarian cancer. Approximately 10,000 cases are pending in the MDL, which is being heard in U.S. District Court in Tenton.
"Thousands of women are suffering and dying of ovarian cancer because of a lack of knowledge," O'Dell said. "Despite numerous credible scientific studies, companies such as Johnson & Johnson have never warned consumers about an increased risk of ovarian cancer stemming from genital talc use."
While the report does not address causation, beyond the question of family history, numerous medical studies over the past four decades have documented how talcum powder applied to the genital area can travel to the ovaries and lead to ovarian cancer.
That research shows that women who have used talcum powder for genital hygiene are at a 30-60 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer compared to those who have never used it. One medical expert calculates that this use of talcum powder leads to nearly 10 percent of the new ovarian cancer cases reported annually in the United States.