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personal advice ● psa By Misty Maaya Building an Alliance The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida is encouraging women of all ages to be aware of the different types of cancer that affect them by undergoing regular tests B eing intelligent females in the pageant world, I know you take good care of your- selves, both inside and out, which also means visiting your healthcare providers for your an- nual check-ups. These visits almost always include a breast exam, as well as a pelvic exam and Pap smear. You leave this visit believing that you have been thoroughly checked for any is- sues that may have occurred since your last visit... but have you? The Pap smear only tests for cervi- cal cancer. Cervical cancer is only one type of gynecological cancer. There is NO test for any of the other forms of gynecological cancer, and YOU must be your own advocate against these other cancers. GYNECOLOGIC CANCER The Centers for Disease Control define gynecologic cancer as “any can- cer that starts in a woman’s reproduc- tive organs.” Gynecologic cancers begin in dif- ferent places within a woman’s pelvis, which is the area below the stomach and in between the hip bones. Ⅲ Cervical cancer Ⅲ Ovarian cancer Ⅲ Uterine cancer Ⅲ Vaginal cancer Ⅲ Vulvar cancer There is also a sixth, but very rare 68 PAGEANTRY type of gynecologic cancer: fallopian tube cancer. pain with intercourse, constipation and menstrual irregularities. ABOUT OVARIAN CANCER THE OVARIAN CANCER ALLIANCE OF FLORIDA Ovarian cancer is the deadliest form of gynecologic cancer and ac- counts for approximately three per- cent of all cancers in women. The American Cancer Society estimates that in 2013, about 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed and 15,500 women will die of ovarian cancer in the U.S. Ovarian cancer occurs in 1 in 71 women, at any age. Increasing age and personal or family history of breast, colon, or ovarian cancer increases risk. Most women are diagnosed with a 46% 5-year survival rate, but early de- tection can improve survival rates to 93%. It is vital that we educate women and girls about the symptoms of ovarian cancer so that they may take control of their bodies and be an advocate for their own health. Because there is no test for ovarian cancer, we must know what is normal for our bodies. Symptoms to look for include: Ⅲ Bloating Ⅲ Pelvic or abdominal pain Ⅲ Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly Ⅲ Urinary symptoms Several other symptoms may in- clude fatigue, indigestion, back pain, The Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida is the only organization in Central Florida that educates and ad- vocates for good gynecological health for both women and girls, and provides programs developed exclusively for gy- necological cancer patients. Its mission is to ignite the fight against ovarian and other gynecological cancers. GYNECOLOGICAL CANCER MONTH The OCAF and organizations all across the United States are on a mis- sion to turn our country teal during the month of September. Join us by supporting your local organizations, wearing your teal, and helping us spread the word about ovarian cancer and its symptoms. The Ovarian Cancer National Al- liance is a supported charity of the Miss USA organization. Ⅺ Misty Maaya is the Director of Development and Programs for the Ovarian Cancer Alliance of Florida and has worked with numerous non-profit organizations in the fields of women’s health, disaster recovery, and community redevelopment.