Ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecological cancers and is the fifth-most-frequent cancer among California women. But it’s often overshadowed by awareness campaigns for more common cancers like those of the breast and colon.

“Treating ovarian cancer is challenging because there is no screening tool available to detect the disease in its early stages,” says Dr. Leslie M. Randall, gynecologic oncologist at UC Irvine’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. “However, women can help themselves by finding out what ovarian cancer is, who’s at risk, and what risk-reductions strategies exist.”

To spread this knowledge, Randall will lead the Ovarian Cancer Awareness & Preventive Strategies Symposium at UC Irvine Medical Center from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, May 22. The public session is free, and registration begins at 12:30 p.m. For reservations, contact Trisha James at 714-456-7347 or tjames@uci.edu or visit the online reservation page (pdf).

Attendees will learn to recognize the often-subtle symptoms of ovarian cancer. Recent studies have shown a greater likelihood of the disease in some women with persistent bloating – daily for several weeks at a time.

“This symptom doesn’t mean you have ovarian cancer – in fact, it’s almost always due to benign conditions – but in certain situations, it might be a red flag,” Randall says. “The symposium will feature ovarian cancer survivors sharing their stories and tips on when women should seek more aggressive evaluation of symptoms.”

Early diagnosis is critical, but according to the National Cancer Institute, only 19 percent of ovarian cancers are detected while still confined to the primary site; 68 percent are identified after metastasis.

Other symposium topics will include:

  • Ovarian cancer prevention strategies, including the potential advantages of oral contraceptives;
  • Risk-reducing options for women with a genetic predisposition to ovarian cancer;
  • Current treatment standards; and
  • The role of clinical trials in ovarian cancer management.

There will also be question-and-answer sessions.

As Orange County’s only National Cancer Institute-designated comprehensive cancer center, UCI’s Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center offers treatment beyond just conventional chemotherapy. Cutting-edge drugs and combination therapies are only available through clinical trials at such centers.

The public symposium is sponsored by UC Irvine Medical Center and supported by a grant from the California Ovarian Cancer Awareness Program.

About UC Irvine Medical Center: Orange County’s only university research hospital, Level I trauma center, American College of Surgeons-verified regional burn center and National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center, UC Irvine Medical Center offers acute- and general-care services at its new, 482,000-square-foot UC Irvine Douglas Hospital.

About the University of California Irvine: Founded in 1965, UCI is a top-ranked university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Led by Chancellor Michael Drake since 2005, UCI is among the most dynamic campuses in the University of California system, with nearly 28,000 undergraduate and graduate students, 1,100 faculty and 9,000 staff. Orange County’s largest employer, UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3.9 billion. For more UCI news, visit www.today.uci.edu.

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