September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month
Posted September 2, 2013 | Filed under topic Health Insurance Information
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Ovarian cancer is a difficult disease to catch early and it has a very high mortality rate because it isn’t often discovered until the cancer is at stage 3 or stage 4 after it has metastasized.
Dr. Oz has been helping to break the silence on this silent killer and together with the NOCC is helping women to be more actively involved in getting proper diagnosis and treatment through the use of a simple one-page form that helps women document their symptoms and makes recommendations for further testing.
The good news is that a simple blood test to monitor levels of CA 125 in the blood is showing promise as a way to identify women at risk so they can advocate for other tests to rule out or confirm ovarian cancer as a cause for their symptoms.
Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect, especially in the earliest stages, because the symptoms are vague and unspecific. The ovaries are also small and hidden deep within the abdominal cavity. The typical symptoms can mimic a host of other diseases. Here are the most common symptoms:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating, or feeling full quickly
- Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
Additional symptoms can include:
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Constipation, or menstrual changes
It is not so much the symptoms, but the persistent nature of the symptoms that are a tipoff if normal interventions do not resolve the symptoms. If any of the symptoms listed above persist for two weeks or more a woman should seek immediate medical attention and request a recto-vaginal exam, a CA 125 test, and a transvaginal ultrasound.
When ovarian cancer is detected in the earliest stages (I and II) the 5-year survival rate is over 90% but only about 19% of all ovarian cancers are detected at this early stage. If cancer is caught at stage III or higher, the 5-year survival rate drops as low as 30.6% so early detection is crucial.
The Cost of Treatment
The cost of ovarian cancer treatment is very high. In general, new cancer chemotherapy medicines and treatment protocols alone can cost up to $100,000 a month or more and that does not include surgery, hospitalization costs, radiation treatments or medicines to deal with the side affects of chemotherapy.
It is always difficult to think about catastrophic illnesses but if you should find yourself battling a catastrophic disease like ovarian cancer you want to have the assurance you won’t need to be fighting the insurance companies when you should be focusing on getting better.
Many health insurance plans limit how many or which tests they will pay for, or deny coverage of certain drugs or procedures, so it is extremely important to understand exactly what your health insurance covers. With cancer treatment costs continuing to rise, it may be time to look into supplemental health insurance policies, especially if you have a family history of cancer.
Many health care policies provide adequate cancer care coverage and in many cases coverage is improving as a result of the Affordable Care Act but many policies are also woefully inadequate meaning that a cancer patient may face huge out of pocket expenses, or fight through an appeals process to get the coverage one needs.
Everyone should have comprehensive health care insurance. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act Comprehensive insurance is required to provide minimum essential coverage for a defined set of essential health benefits. Even so, you should clearly understand what services your insurance covers, and how much you are likely to have to pay out of your pocket when you need health care.
Catastrophic insurance is a limited policy that covers very high medical expenses. These policies generally have very high deductibles. As of 2014 health plans will be required to cover at least 60% of expected health care costs for their population of enrollees. This means catastrophic coverage could begin to look pretty much the same as catastrophic insurance.
Although catastrophic insurance may look good, for many cancer patients the high deductibles make it a poor choice in comparison to a solid comprehensive medical policy. Consult with an insurance agent to find the best health insurance options for you, your family and in the event of a catastrophic medical situation, so you can feel secure about your ability to receive the treatment you or your family members may need.