Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

Floor Speech

Date: Sept. 14, 2022
Location: Washington, DC


Mr. BACON. Madam Speaker, I rise today during Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to recognize women who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and have either survived or unfortunately lost their hard-fought battle. A rare but deadly disease, only approximately 19,880 women will receive a new diagnosis this year--this past March, our Communications Director Danielle Jensen was one of them.

The deadliest of the reproductive cancers, only 20 percent are diagnosed early in Stages I or II, with a five-year survival rate of over 93 percent. Unfortunately, the majority of cases are diagnosed in Stages Ill or IV, when the survival rate can be as low as 30 percent. The risk of a woman getting ovarian cancer is about 1 in 78 in her lifetime and it is estimated that 12,810 women will lose their lives to ovarian cancer this year. Fortunately, Danielle was diagnosed as Stage II and recently completed chemotherapy.

There are several factors that can increase the risk of ovarian cancers. Age is the biggest one. Half of all ovarian cancers are found in women 63 years of age and older. Another is if a woman has never carried a pregnancy to full-term or had a child after the age of 35. Hormone replacement therapy, a family history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer, or a personal history of breast cancer are also risk factors.

There is no reliable screening or diagnostic test for ovarian cancer, and it cannot be detected during a pap smear, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms. This includes back pain, bloating, frequent urination, feeling full quickly after eating, fatigue, upset stomach-heartburn-or constipation, pelvic or abdominal pain, or changes in menstrual cycles. While these symptoms are most likely not signs of cancer, they should be of concern if they don't go away after two weeks following normal interventions such as changing diet and exercise, laxatives, or rest. It is because of this that ovarian cancer is often referred to as ``the silent killer.''

There are different treatments for ovarian cancer. Danielle had surgery and she went through six cycles of chemotherapy to kill any cancer cells that may have been left. Some women will also undergo radiation to treat it.

What can lower the risk of ovarian cancer? Women who have been pregnant and carried to term before the age of 26, and each full-term pregnancy lowers the risk. Some studies show that breastfeeding may lower the risk even further, as well as using birth control pills.

Finally, we are thankful that Danielle was diagnosed when she was and is on the path to being a survivor. She said she credits God and her faith for keeping her motivation focused and strong, as well as her medical team at Estabrook Cancer Center, including Dr. Crotzer, her nurse navigator Emily and PA Lorna, and her infusion nurse Abbey. She also thanks her family, including her mom who went to every appointment and her daughter who would check in on Danielle when she heard her crying from the pain, and her friends who supported her every day.