"Take to the battlefield and fight for the best medical, psychological and social support for ovarian cancer patients," was the call-to-action issued to oncology nurses yesterday at a symposium entitled "Therapeutic Advances & Advocacy in Ovarian Cancer." The session was part of educational activities held during the 26th Annual Congress of the Oncology Nursing Society, in San Diego this week.
"Oncology nurses are a critical component of the growing ovarian cancer advocacy movement," said Patricia Goldman, president, Ovarian Cancer National Alliance (OCNA). "They can help women find support in coping with complex psychosocial needs and emotions. And, they can often help an overwhelmed and confused woman weigh the pros and cons of different therapies and make the choice that's right for her, her life and her family."
"One of the important roles that advocacy groups like OCNA hold in today's environment is educating patients, their families and the public on newer treatment options that may be considered, especially if they have the potential to significantly improve a patient's quality of life," said Ms. Goldman. "As women live with the disease longer, they should be asking their medical team about a medication's efficacy, potency of side effects, administration schedule and its potential impact on living their life as productively as possible."
Sponsored by ALZA Corporation, the two-hour continuing education session featured Bonnie Donihi, OCNA board member of Lake Mary, FL discussing ``Ovarian Cancer: Silent No More through Patient Advocacy.'' Also speaking at the forum were Susan Nolte, RN, MSN, CRNP, a clinical nurse specialist at Abington Memorial Hospital in Abington, PA, discussing ``Therapeutic Advances in Ovarian Cancer'' and Lois Almadrones, RN, MS, CFNP, MPA, a clinical nurse specialist in Gynecology service at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York City, who presented ``Advances in Symptom Management for Ovarian Cancer.''
``We still have a long way to go before we win the war on ovarian cancer, but we can certainly use this meeting as an opportunity to celebrate both the small and large advances that have contributed to improved quality of life for ovarian cancer survivors,'' said Ms. Goldman.
About Ovarian Cancer
In 2001, approximately 23,400 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the U.S. Nearly 14,000 will die, making ovarian cancer the fifth cause of cancer death in women and the deadliest of all reproductive cancers. The high mortality rate is attributed to the fact that many of the disease's symptoms, such as nausea, bloating and pelvic pain are generally not alarming enough to women to seek immediate treatment, and they are often confused with other, more minor conditions. Thus, nearly three-quarters of ovarian cancer cases are detected in advanced stages, when the odds of surviving for five years drops from 95 percent to just 28 percent. At present, there is no easy-to-administer and reliable screening test.
Launched in 1997, the Ovarian Cancer National Alliance is a consumer-led, umbrella organization established by leading ovarian cancer activists from across the country. Founders include Conversations!, a Texas-based newsletter for ovarian cancer survivors, National Ovarian Cancer Coalition (Boca Raton, FL), Ovar'coming Together (Indianapolis, IN), Ovarian Cancer Coalition of Greater Washington (Washington DC), and SHARE, Self-Help for Women with Breast or Ovarian Cancer (NY). Members include survivors, women who are at risk, families and friends, healthcare professionals, and women's advocates.