Wednesday, September 19, 2012

September is National Gynecologic Cancer Awareness month.

The American Cancer Society recommends that average-risk women get Pap smears every two years, which is key to detecting cervical cancer early and providing the highest survival rates. Unfortunately, there is no approved screening test for ovarian cancer. The symptoms are often vague and may seem to be more gastrointestinal than gynecologic. If there is a suspicion of ovarian cancer, it is critical to schedule an appointment with a gynecologic oncologist as quickly as possible.

Marci Santiago is an ovarian cancer survivor. In August, Marci’s Team, made up of her friends and family, raised the most money for the Austin Walk to Break the Silence on Ovarian Cancer sponsored by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition. This is her story:

“At this point in my life, both of the doctors involved with my ovarian cancer diagnosis are lifesavers. Although I believe paying attention to my body was the catalyst to geting me into the doctor’s office, my gyno, Dr. Eldrid Kaplan, took me seriously, did an exam, and sent me for a CT scan. He believed I had a fibroid tumor and would have a simple hysterectomy. He called me 15 minutes after the CT to tell me what they really found. He sent me to a gynecologic oncologist, something I did not know even existed. Dr. Mark Crozier saw me two days later, due to the phone call from Dr. K.

“I am in awe of what it would take to be an oncologist. A very special kind of person has to deal with cancer every single day. Dr. Crozier was kind, but firm; informative, but not scary. As it turns out later, I hear from a lot of people that I am very lucky to have had him because he does more teaching then surgery these days. My surgery was very successful, and I had ZERO complications..

“My relationship with Dr. Crozier, and his fabulous staff, has grown into something completely different. He is very funny and honest. He picks his words carefully, and deals with the fact that I always have an entourage with me. At my very first appointment, there were four of us in the room with him, and 7seven of my friends were in the waiting room. He was also open to a lot of things: Western and Eastern medicine, a second opinion at M.D. Anderson, and a change of protocol that I requested for my treatment. I am cancer-free and in the middle of a year-long trial with him. Obviously, he is my hero!”

TMA’s Physician Oncology Education Program offers a 30-minute video for physicians, Ovarian Cancer and the Health Care Provider, featuring ovarian cancer survivors and their stories. To view the video, please visit www.poep.org.

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