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Ovarian cancer not silent (just subtle)
[00:00:00] Lord Sisters, we can do better. It's world ovarian Cancer Awareness Day and we, God, we can do better. I have this beef cuz it's almost five years since I was diagnosed, and as I keep saying, I'm done diagnosed, by the way, with ovarian cancer. For those of you don't know, my beef is this. We keep being told that it is the silent killer and it is not.
I wanna flip the switch. I wanna change the. . It's not the silent killer. It is like the subtle whisperer. And yes, I painted my fingernails teal in honor of ovarian cancer. So here's the deal. This is what you need to know. It's not silent, it's subtle. Here are some stats. I think you know this cuz you've heard me talking.
If you've listened and maybe you've read about it, and all the magazines and everyone who talks about it, two-thirds of women with ovarian cancer are detected at stage three and four, two-thirds stage three and four. is increasing in its ability to survive, but it's still a grueling, grueling disease to go through [00:01:00] because it re means multiple surgeries and long bouts of chemo.
And unfortunately, the majority of women with it still are gonna have a significantly shortened lifespan. That's one. Two. Most of these women who are detected at stage three and four will say that they had at least six to eight months of symptoms before they either came forward to their doctor. Or they came forward to their doctor, but unfortunately their doctors either didn't order the right order, the right tests, or they ignored their symptoms altogether.
We're gonna talk about why in a second. It's not always because the doctors are bad. If we find it at stage one or two than it is much more likely that women will lead long, healthy lives that are completely, completely dealable. So I need. As people with ovaries, and I need me as a person with a medical degree to get the word out better.
I keep choking that. I'm the trifecta. I'm the woman who's a doctor, the woman who had ovarian cancer, and the woman who is perfectly [00:02:00] willing to talk about it all the time and willing to call things out when it's important to call things out. So here's the problem, ladies, as I see it, there are three problems.
One, The medical industrial complex wants to keep calling it the silent killer, cuz that makes it easy, right? It's a silent killer. Therefore, guess what? If it's a silent killer, we just can't find it. Let's just chalk it up to one of those things that we're never gonna find and fix. Cuz that makes it easy, right?
First of all, it's not the silent killer. I'm gonna keep saying it. It's subtle. It's not silent. If we say it's silent, then no one's gonna have to take any responsibility for. Let me make it clear again. It's not silent. Okay? Let's not let people off the hook. We can find it earlier. Done. Two ladies. I can't let you guys off the hook.
You gotta know your body. You have to know your symptoms. You have to really pay attention, and you have to know what you're getting tested for. When you go to your gynecologist, you are not getting tested for ovarian cancer because there is no screening test for ovarian. I know I've said it before. I'm gonna say it again [00:03:00] 10,000 more times.
Please let that sit. There is no screening test for ovarian cancer. , but what about my pap smear? That's for cervical cancer. But what about when she does that test where she puts her hand in my, in my vagina and then she pushes on my belly? Yeah. I mean, that's like a, she's doing a pelvic exam, but it's not really a screening test in that it's not a really a test.
It's just an exam where she's pushing and making sure she doesn't feel a big mass in the absence of a big mass. It's not really giving you any great information because ovarian cancer can be sneaky and most women won't necessarily have a huge mass just on her routine annual exam when she walks into the doctor's office.
So a normal pelvic exam does not mean that you don't have ovarian cancer. And again, I don't say that to be scary. Okay, but what about, why don't I just do an ultrasound every year? Well, we'll get to that in a second. Okay. So ladies, that's number two. You're not off the hook. You gotta know your symptoms.
I'm gonna talk about your symptoms in a second. And number three, [00:04:00] doctors, doctors, doctors, we have to do better. We can do better, and we have to do better. The reasons why doctors don't do better are myriad. One is out of, let's just face it, some doctors just don't pay enough attention because that's just a fact.
Not every person on earth is great at their job. They're just not. Not every teacher is great. Not every cop is great. Not every president is great. Not every essential oil selling person is great. Not every anyone is great. That's just a fact. So some doctors a suck, some doctors are amazing, but they have to pay a lot of attention to the fact that pelvic ultrasounds, which is the kind of the mainstay of finding ovarian cancer.
Are not covered by insurance. Always. If you have a high deductible, and even if you don't have a high deductible, doctors who order too many ultrasounds, me get dinged by the insurance companies. Or if you happen to work for a big conglomerate, like a big multi-specialty group, or if you work for a hospital, they will potentially tell you that you cannot over-order tests.
And if you order too many ultrasounds, you might get called out on it as a. That sucks, [00:05:00] but that's a reality. So these are all potentially benign reasons, meaning it's not malice on the part of your doctor. She didn't mean to not do it, but these are realities as to why. Sometimes it's that your doctor is kind of thinking, you know what I mean?
This is a young, healthy patient. She has pain. She probably doesn't have ovarian cancer. I don't need to order the ultrasound because it's gonna be, you know, a pain for the patient. And why would you know? She's like, you're gonna be okay. Like, all these things that make sense. The fact. , there is no screening test.
So the ultrasound is not a screening tool. So even if you think that every year, why don't I just get one every year? It's not gonna pick up on ovarian cancer if you just do it once a year, cuz you could have a normal ultrasound today. In three months from now, you might have ovarian cancer and it would be the wrong test to just do as a screening tool.
So the only way ovarian cancer will be picked up is if these three things get fixed. If our medical industrial complex fixes. Stop saying it's a silent killer because it's not. Improves technology, which we're working on in different ways. If women understand their symptoms. Bloating, pain, [00:06:00] pressure in your pelvis that lasts more than two weeks, don't freak out.
It's probably not ovarian cancer, but. , go see your doctor. New onset pressure when I pee, feeling like I have to pee more frequently, but I thought that was a urinary tract infection. A k a same thing as a bladder infection, and it could be, but if your doctor is saying, but your urinary, uh, culture was negative, then go see your doctor again because you should have an ultrasound.
Or all of a sudden I'm feeling a lot more pressure when I have to poop. That seems weird. Or I'm having pain when I have intercourse. That's weird. These are all things you should see your doctor. to get an ultrasound. Your doctor also has to be more proactive about sending you for an ultrasound, whether it's your primary care doctor, you've talked to your urologist, you've talked to the emergency room doctor you went in for because you had pelvic pain.
Your gynecologist, we all have to be more proactive about sending you for ultrasounds. Is that complicated? Yes. Because does it potentially add cost to the system? Absolutely. Yes. Ultrasounds. Easy test to do. They require a technician. They require a machine. They [00:07:00] require someone to interpret the test. They lead to false positives in that you might have an O ovarian cyst that is completely benign, but then it requires a follow up in six to eight weeks, which again, adds time for you as the patient.
It adds cost to the system. These are all complex issues that are not simple and. That said, if we don't all have a really low threshold to do these things, and a high index of suspicion to make sure that ovarian cancer is on our mind. Then we're gonna miss the people who have it. Now I fully get that because I had ovarian cancer.
It's what's on my list. You might have your own issue on your list. We all have our own issues on our list. The frank truth is we should kind of all have every kind of issue on our list. And ovarian cancer is one of the ones that I feel really strongly about because, and hear me out on this one. By understanding ovarian cancer and understanding your own symptoms, it actually covers a lot of different issues because it's not just one small niche, little [00:08:00] disease that like not everyone can pay attention to.
Shiva, you're crazy. It's actually a disease. That means that women are honor. their bodies and pay attention to their whole body because our entire pelvis is involved. When you really pay attention to your ovary and if you really understand what tests you're being test, what tests you're being evaluated for when you see your doctor, that means that you're really honoring everything.
So ovarian cancer encompasses a lot of different things. So in. giving you all this information. I can actually say, yes, it might sound niche and self-serving for me to tell you that I care about ovarian cancer and that you need to do better with ovarian cancer. But it actually means that you're honoring all of your female genital organs and all of your female health, and that will elevate how much you know about all of your body and your health and how you feel connected to this vessel that you need to live with for the rest of your life.
So again, we can do better. It is not the silent killer. It is. Know your body, know your [00:09:00] symptoms. Please go see your doctor. If you have these symptoms, ask for an ultrasound. If it is not ordered for you, acknowledge that. Unfortunately, you might have to pay for part of it. If your insurance doesn't cover it, which is not your doctor's fault, you might have to pay for it.
Do not be angry at your doctor. You can ask her to code it as a screening test, but she will not be able to because it is not a screening test. There's no way for her to. and make sure that you understand that the majority of the time it will not be ovarian cancer. But if we don't continue to look for it, we will miss it and understand your family history risk, increased risk for those people who have breast cancer, ovarian cancer, potentially even things that we are learning like colon cancer and even endometriosis is increasingly found to have a connection to ovarian cancer.
My endometriosis. It came from my ovarian cancer, which is rare, but it can happen. So again, don't be paranoid. Just be proactive. Know your [00:10:00] body, understand your symptoms. Please talk to your friends about this so that more and more people with ovaries understand their risk. That's it. Goodbye.