Avera Medical Minute: September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Published: Aug. 23, 2021 at 10:06 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - September is ovarian cancer awareness month. It is one of the leading causes of cancer-related death in American women, but medical professionals at Avera Health say there is hope after a diagnosis.

Kristin Hansen is a patient at Avera Health. She was diagnosed with stage 3 ovarian cancer in December of last year.

“Everybody has been fantastic here at Avera, I can’t say enough. From day one it’s been great.”

After surgery and 6 rounds of chemo treatment, Kristin is now in maintenance therapy to ensure her cancer doesn’t return. This is an outcome her doctor, Luis Rojas aims for with all his patients.

“Of all women’s cancer, or gynecological cancer, just focusing on the female organs, ovarian is the second most common, unfortunately, is the most lethal,” said Dr. Rojas.

Dr. Rojas says there is hope for ovarian cancer patients and a lot of it.

“I think I have experienced the medical advance in ovarian cancer treatment of my professional life in the past 4 years. There is so much good information coming out of new therapies, new maintenance therapies, that I know the patients we’re treating now on are going to have a very promising future.”

While treatment plans are different for each patient, Dr. Rojas and Kristin both agree, it’s important for women to listen to their bodies and become aware of the signs of ovarian cancer.

For Kristin, those symptoms included weight loss, followed by weight gain, and the sensation of bloating.

“The challenge about ovarian cancer is that the symptoms are symptoms that women very commonly experience during their reproductive life,” said Dr. Rojas. “For that reason, they are not great symptoms to be looking for, but whenever a patient has some of those symptoms that persist or occur multiple times in a month, it would be a good red flag for them to go and visit their primary care doctor and an investigation is launched.”

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