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Women's Gynecological Exams: Another Victim Of The Troubled Economy?

New Survey From National Ovarian Cancer Coalition Says Gynecologic Health Exams Likely To Fall To The Wayside Due To Economic Factors

DALLAS (May 5, 2009) At Mother's Day, a new survey from the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC), www.ovarian.org, reveals some startling facts about women's health:  more than 52 percent of women expect the economy will impact their gynecological health choices, in many cases delaying or skipping their annual gynecological exams altogether. 

Fielded by TNS Global for the NOCC, the study surveyed 1,000 Americans on their awareness of ovarian cancer, a leading gynecologic cancer. Ovarian cancer affects 20,000 women annually and is responsible for the deaths of 15,000 each year.  Older women are at highest risk.  Additionally, about two-thirds of ovarian cancer deaths occur in women aged 55 and over and about 25 percent occur in women between 35 and 54*, according to the National Institutes of Health. 

Significant results from the survey include:

  • One in three women has not had a gynecologic exam in the past year. 
  • 28.5 percent will skip seeing a gynecologist and will only see their primary care physician.
  • 3.2 percent will only get their annual exam if they have a problem.
  • 14.2 percent will delay their annual exam altogether.

Troubled Economy Affects Women's Health       

"These results are particularly troubling to the NOCC due to the nature of ovarian cancer, the fact that women are not seeing their physicians for an annual exam and the lack of awareness of symptoms," said Carol Ansley, CEO of the NOCC. "There is no screening test, so women need to be their own advocates and have an open dialogue with their health practitioners about persistent symptoms. With ovarian cancer, early detection is key to long-term survival.  Improved survival rates come from continuing to educate women about early signs and symptoms." 

Women should pay heed to the following symptoms:    

  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual changes
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Back pain
  • Constipation

Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should consult their physician, preferably a gynecologist.  Persistence of symptoms is key, especially when the symptoms do not resolve with normal interventions such as diet change, exercise, rest, etc.  Also, a Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer, so additional testing will need to be done by a health practitioner to make a diagnosis. This could include a pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound or a blood test. 

*Source: National Library of Medicine - www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/ency/article/000999.htm  

About NOCC

Since its inception in 1995, the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (NOCC) has been committed to raising awareness of ovarian cancer in communities across the country and to providing education and programs for women with ovarian cancer and their families. For more information on the "Break the Silence" campaign and to contact one of the NOCC local chapters, visit www.ovarian.org or call 1-888-OVARIAN. 

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The National Ovarian Cancer Coalition is a 501 (c)(3) charitable organization that provides public education and awareness about ovarian cancer through a toll-free Help Line, local NOCC Chapters, comprehensive website, peer support, publications, and awareness/educational programs.  NOCC's mission is to raise awareness and promote education about ovarian cancer. The Coalition is committed to improving the survival rate and quality of life for women with ovarian cancer. For more information on the "Break the Silence" campaign and to contact one of the local NOCC Chapters, visit www.ovarian.org or call 1-888-OVARIAN.

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