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Out of all cancers affecting women in the United States, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of death, according to U.S. National Cancer Institute at the National Institutes of Health.
In 2015, more than 21,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and more than 14,000 women’s lives will be taken by the disease in the U.S., according to the American Cancer Society.
Ovarian cancer has the lowest survival rate of all gynecologic cancers, the National Cancer Institute said. The rate is so low as many ovarian cancer cases are not caught until later stages and some women may associate their symptoms with menopause or their menstrual cycle instead.
But that is something the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA), as well as other ovarian cancer groups are working hard to change by shedding light on a widespread and often silent epidemic.
May 8, 2015, will be the third annual World Ovarian Cancer Day. The first day was observed in 2013, by an international group of representatives from patient organizations working in ovarian cancer. The organization is dedicated to creating and raising awareness about ovarian cancer to ensure all women know about the disease.
Calaneet Balas, CEO of OCNA, strongly believes in supporting those women affected by this devastating disease. Balas believes that cancer still carries a big stigma in many countries around the world, especially when it comes to women. Due to limited treatment options and low survival rates, many women often feel loneliness and abandonment along with their cancer diagnosis rather than receiving the support they really need at this time from family and friends. If ovarian cancer is found and treated before the cancer spreads outside of the ovaries, the five-year survival rate is 92 percent, but only 15 percent of all ovarian cancer cases are found at this early stage, the American Cancer Society said.
"In some countries they talk about cancer, but they don't talk about women's cancer, and gynecologic cancer is still taboo across the board. We certainly don't talk about it here in the United States," Balas said.
By coming together since the first meeting, the World Ovarian Cancer Day group "has built and will continue to build a sense of solidarity in the fight against the disease," Balas said. The group has been addressing gaps in understanding and managing the disease, building awareness and increasing funds for research.