Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Ovarian Cancer Screening Ineffective

Yesterday the New York Times reported on the utter futility of screening for ovarian cancer.  The United States Preventive Services Task Force this week again confirmed that ovarian cancer screening, such as it is, fails to save lives.  Moreover, the USPSTF determined that screening may cause more harm than good in healthy average risk women because of false positives that lead to unnecessary surgery, which can have serious complications.  Accordingly, the USPSTF recommends against routine ovarian cancer screening for most women.  But the USPSTF was careful to say that its recommendation does not apply to women who are at high risk for ovarian cancer due to BRCA mutations or family history.  Unfortunately even for these women the sad truth remains, our current screening options are sadly and wholly inadequate.

As I have blogged before, September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and women desperately need better options.  In fact my very first post pondered a world where men were as regularly recommended to remove their sexual organs for cancer prevention as are women at risk for breast and ovarian cancer.  No doubt the world would be a different place and the clamor for more research funding would be loud. Ovarian cancer prevention needs the same type of research funding as breast cancer. September is ovarian cancer awareness month and is represented by a teal ribbon. Yet our world is not bathed in teal in September the way it is bathed in pink each October even though ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly women’s cancers and effective early detection methods do not exist. Research money only comes to those who are loud and create a public dialogue. September needs to be bathed in teal.

Two years ago I had surgery to remove my ovaries to reduce my inherited risk of ovarian cancer. Six weeks later I celebrated my recovery from preventive surgery to remove my ovaries with a 5K run in the 9th Annual KICKIN’ CANCER! 5K Walk/Run and Women's Healthcare Expo to raise funds and awareness for the early detection and prevention of both ovarian and breast cancer. This year will be my third year as captain of Team FORCE and I am once again running to raise money for ovarian cancer research.

This year’s run is for me even more personal. A friend who this time last year was battling ovarian cancer will be walking with my team this year. I celebrate her recovery but that celebration is tempered with the reality that advanced ovarian cancer is rarely ever over. This truth was brought home to me at the beginning of the summer when another woman in our FORCE family lost her battle to ovarian cancer. Our team is dedicating our walk/run this year to Gloria Glaser and we will be joined by members of her family. I saw Gloria in March, at which time her ovarian cancer was thought to be in remission. She looked fabulous and was bubbly and full of life. Her recurrence was diagnosed two weeks after I last saw her and she was gone less than six weeks later.

I have been involved with FORCE, Facing Our Risk of Cancer Empowered, since 2006. FORCE is a national nonprofit dedicated to fighting hereditary breast and ovarian cancer. FORCE is a truly wonderful organization that is making a difference in the lives of high-risk women and men (yes, men do get breast cancer too and do carry mutations on BRCA genes). FORCE is partnering with the sponsor of KICKIN’ CANCER, the Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research, to raise money for this important cause.

Team FORCE is raising money to fund research find cures and early detection options for ovarian cancer and breast cancer. Half of the funds raised by Team FORCE will go to the Lynne Cohen Foundation's research and preventive care clinics and the other half of the money raised by Team FORCE will go to the FORCE Hereditary Cancer Research Fund.

I believe that this collaboration between FORCE and the Lynne Cohen Foundation is important and well worth the effort. I am particularly proud of the fact that the Team FORCE has raised more than $45,000 for ovarian cancer research in the past 3 years.  This is just a drop in the bucket of what is needed but it is nonetheless an important part.  I sincerely hope that future generations will not have to face surgical menopause as I did in order to manage ovarian cancer risk.

Here is how you can help:

1. Join Team FORCE and come out on September 30th and walk (or run) with me! To join visit www.kickincancer.com, select “Register Here,” select “Join a Team” then from the drop down menu at the bottom of the box select “Team FORCE.” OR click on "Join Our Team" from the Team FORCE page. Be sure to enter the discount code “force” on the individual registration page and you will receive a $5 discount on registration for the event.


2. Sponsor me! To donate online, visit my webpage. Checks made payable to KICKIN’ CANCER! can be mailed to The Lynne Cohen Foundation for Ovarian Cancer Research, P.O. Box 7128, Santa Monica, CA 90406-7128. Please include my name in the memo line of your check. Donations are tax deductible as provided by law.


3. Become a virtual runner. You can join our team as a virtual runner, raise money for our team, and show your support for the cause no matter where you are in the country. You can run a 5K with your friends wherever you are and send us the photos to post on our LA FORCE page!

Thank you for considering this request for support. If you have any questions about the Lynne Cohen Foundation, please visit www.lynnecohenfoundation.org, call 877.OVARY.11, or email info@lcfocr.org. For information about FORCE please visit www.facingourrisk.org.


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  1. Another great blog, Joi. Another opportunity to thank you for your voice and all you do for FORCE and the BRCA community. Have a great upcoming race!!!

    1. Thanks so much Barbara. And thanks so much for your support. I run for you ... and for your sisters.