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Bright Pink Quick Reads-Family Health History: A Powerful Roadmap
Assess Your Risk, Family Health History

Family Health History: a powerful roadmap to manage your risk

Did you know that up to 25% of breast and ovarian cancers are familial or hereditary? Knowing your family’s health history can be a powerful roadmap for you and your healthcare provider to better understand and manage your breast and ovarian cancer risk proactively.

Getting Started

Since the holiday season is quickly approaching, it’s a great time to begin talking with your relatives- on both parents’ sides if possible- about who had cancer of any kind, which types, and how old they were when diagnosed. While breast and ovarian cancer history are important, other types of cancer can also be indicators- so capture everything you can using our Family Health History form. Then, you’ll be all set to Assess Your Risk, using our tool.

We know this is not always easy. This is why we’ve designed a helpful discussion guide to support you as you seek to learn as much as you can about your family’s health history.

Family History: What to Look Out For

You may be at higher risk if you are a woman with a family history of:

  1. A close relative with a known genetic mutation associated with an increased or high risk of developing breast or ovarian cancer risk:
  • BRCA1, BRCA2
  • MSH2, MLH1, EPCAM (Lynch Syndrome)
  • PMS2, MSH6 (Lynch Syndrome)
  • PMS2, MSH6 (Lynch Syndrome)
  • TP53 (Li-Fraumeni Syndrome)
  • PTEN (Cowden Syndrome)
  • CDH1 (Hereditary Diffuse Gastric and Lobular Breast Cancer Syndrome)
  • STK11 (Peutz- Jeghers Syndrome)
  • PALB2
  • CHEK2
  • ATM
  • NBN
  • BRIP1
  • RAD51C
  • RAD51D
  • NF1

Women with a BRCA mutation face up to an 87% lifetime risk for breast cancer and up to a 54% lifetime risk for ovarian cancer- much higher than the general population.

2. Breast cancer diagnosed at age 45 or under
3. Triple-negative (ER-, PR-, HER2-) breast cancer diagnosed at age 60 or under
4. Male breast cancer
5. More than one breast cancer in one relative (cancer in both breasts, or two separate breast cancers in one breast)
6. Two or more relatives with breast cancer, with at least one of the diagnoses at age 50 or under
7. Ovarian cancer, primary peritoneal cancer, or fallopian tube cancer at any age
8. Pancreatic cancer
9. Metastatic Prostate cancer
10. A combination of 3 or more of the following cancers on one side of your family:

  • Breast cancer
  • Ovarian cancer
  • Pancreatic cancer
  • Uterine or endometrial cancer
  • Stomach, color, or other gastrointestinal cancer
  • Thyroid cancer
  • Kidney cancer
  • Sarcoma
  • Adrenocortical carcinoma
  • Brain tumor
  • Leukemia

Tell Me More: Understanding Hereditary Cancer

A little knowledge about genes can go a long way in helping you understand your risk for hereditary cancer.

Gene mutations associated with both breast and ovarian cancer can run in families. Scientific breakthroughs in the last two decades have uncovered many mutations types including, BRCA1, BRCA2, PALB2, MLH1, TP53, PTEN, STK11, CDH1, CHEK2, and ATM, among other less well-defined gene mutation syndromes.

Genes like BRCA1 and BRCA2 (for breast cancer genes 1 and 2) normally stop breast and ovarian cells from growing and dividing uncontrolled. When an error occurs, or there is a mutation, it can increase the chances of cancer developing. We all have two copies of each gene. As long as at least one BRCA1 and one BRCA2 gene work normally, your risk for cancer won’t be raised; the copies of each gene act as backups for each other. However, if both copies are damaged, your body loses a tool for stopping cancer cells from growing.

Some people are not born with normal genes- they inherit a mutation. Since they don’t have backup protection, any damage to the normal gene can lead to cancer.

The good news is that these mutations can sometimes be discovered through genetic testing, so those that carry them can proactively reduce their risk. If you have a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer, you should ask your health provider about genetic testing. And if you already have breast or ovarian cancer, understanding whether your cancer is hereditary in nature can impact your family members and help you and your doctors create a more personalized healthcare plan.

What’s Next?

The first thing every woman should do is learn as much as she can about her family history and then assess her risk. Once you know your risk, discuss your results with your healthcare provider. If you learn that you are at an increased risk for breast and ovarian cancer, you should consider exploring genetic counseling and testing. If you already have breast or ovarian cancer, learning that it is hereditary can help you and your doctors choose the best treatment plan and follow-up care for you and can inform family members of their potential risks. You can also take advantage of our Ask a Genetic Counselor resource to ask any questions you may have.

Now that you are armed with some great resources and guides, you have the power to be your own best health advocate. It’s up to you to take the next step to manage your health proactively.


vineyard-vines-pink-whale-in-cranberry-bog
#BCAM, Assess Your Risk, Fueling our Mission, Prevention

A Pink Harvest with vineyard vines & Ocean Spray

On Wednesday, September 18, 2019 Bright Pink kicked off an exciting collaboration with Ocean Spray Cranberries Inc. & vineyard vines.

Ocean Spray hosted Bright Pink and vineyard vines in Rochester, MA at one of their farmer-owned cranberry bogs. Our “Pink Cranberry Harvest” included a first ever vineyard vines whale made completely of cranberries.

We are so pleased to team up with these iconic family brands both of whom have been touched personally by our cause and are committed to bringing our mission directly to their customers nationwide. 

Ocean Spray will use their brand power to raise awareness and educate women, together with Bright Pink, throughout the year on a college campus tour, around Mother’s Day and during family history month.

“It is always gratifying to see two of our partners join forces to further our mission,” said Katie Thiede, CEO of Bright Pink. “Through their generous commitment, we will have the power to educate and equip women across the country on their breast and ovarian cancer risk. Together, we will create a more beautiful and brighter future.”

This is not the first fall that vineyard vines has generously committed to supporting our mission. For the third year in a row, vineyard vines and Bright Pink have built a partnership that stays true to each of our brand’s core values. Bright Pink’s mission is naturally woven into the vineyard vines story due to their founders’ personal connection to our cause. Unlike traditional cancer organizations, Bright Pink’s focus on prevention aligns well with vineyard vines’ lifestyle brand because both are positive, empowering and approachable. This year, they will be fueling our mission by donating 20% of proceeds from their Bright Pink Collection throughout the month of October.

Additionally, vineyard vines will go beyond a financial contribution and share Bright Pink’s Assess Your Risk tool with all of their customers. They are taking our motto of awareness + action to heart, and together we have made it easier than ever to be proactive—just text “BRIGHTER FUTURE” to 59227 to assess YOUR breast and ovarian cancer risk today.

vineyard-vines-Bright-Pink-collection
ZTA-sorority-woman-with-breast-cancer-ribbon
#BCAM, Assess Your Risk, Prevention, ZTA

Think Pink and Practice Prevention

Bright Pink partners with Zeta Tau Alpha to promote prevention on campus and in communities.

You’ve probably seen the statistic 1 in 8. That’s the average woman’s risk of developing breast cancer in her lifetime, about 12%. But did you know that not every woman is at “average” risk of developing this disease? 

There are many factors that impact your lifetime risk of developing breast cancer, including your personal and family health history. From your lifestyle, to grandma’s health, to the age you started your period – it all affects your risk level. Women who have a family history of cancer or a genetic mutation in the BRCA genes may have as high as a 70% chance of developing cancer. That’s a lot different than 12%!

No matter your risk level, you can take your health into your own hands and reduce your risk. Knowing your risk level allows you to determine what actions you should take. That could be as simple as making sure you break a sweat five times a week or as involved as talking to your doctor about increasing your regular screening.

When you know your cancer risk, you can take action to reduce it – and perhaps prevent a diagnosis altogether. That’s why Bright Pink developed the Bright Lite in collaboration with Zeta Tau Alpha (ZTA)–a women’s fraternity dedicated to fighting breast cancer. Through a 3-year partnership, Bright Pink and ZTA have helped to educate over 35,000 young women across the country on breast and ovarian cancer prevention. This year, we aim to build on ZTA’s longstanding commitment to breast cancer awareness by showing how individual action can influence entire communities. 

The Bright Lite is a bite-sized online educational workshop that equips viewers with the breast and ovarian health knowledge they need to be proactive. Bright Lite breaks down why it is so important to know your breast and ovarian cancer risk, what factors can increase or reduce your risk, and how you can determine your personal cancer risk. It also teaches you handy habits you can start now to reduce your risk of cancer throughout your life. Most importantly, the Bright Lite directly links viewers to assessyourrisk.org/zta where ZTA chapter members, alumnae, and YOU can take 5 minutes to learn about your personal risk.

bright-lite-logo

Bright Pink is excited to share this essential knowledge with ZTA and continue working with its members to raise mass awareness about the importance of knowing and acting on your personal risk. What better way to fight breast cancer than preventing it in the first place? The preventive, pink future looks bright!

healthy-food-illustration-cavyas-recipes
#BCAM, Assess Your Risk

Cavya’s Recipes to Reduce Breast Cancer Risk

Did you know? Recent research shows that more than 40% of cancer deaths could be prevented through lifestyle strategies, like healthy eating or self-exams. For those of us with breasts and ovaries, it’s never too early to develop a personalized plan for prevention. It all starts with becoming aware of our unique risk factors. Family history, physical features, and daily habits can all impact our chances of developing cancer.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging everyone to #AssessThenAct: take the Assess Your Risk quiz, and then create a preventative action plan to protect your health. Get started in just 5 minutes today.

Take the Assess Your Risk Quiz

What I Ate In A Day (to reduce my risk of breast & ovarian cancer) from Bright Pink on Vimeo.

If you’re at a low, moderate, or high risk for breast or ovarian cancer, one of the simplest preventative strategies you can implement is embracing healthy eating habits. Whole grains and nutrient-rich fruits and vegetables help keep our bodies healthy and reduce our chances of developing breast or ovarian cancer. To get you started, Bright Pink team member Cavya has shared some of her healthy, mouth-watering recipes below!

Bright Pink Smoothie Bowl

This super tasty smoothie bowl is a breeze to whip together and will probably make your Instagram dreams come true. And if that’s not enough to sell you, nutrient-packed ingredients like berries, tropical fruit, and flax seeds can help you lower your risk of breast and ovarian cancer. What more could you want?

Ingredients

  • Smoothie
    • ½ cup frozen strawberries
    • ¼ cup frozen raspberries
    • ½ cup greek yogurt
    • ½ cup almond milk
  • Toppings
    • ½ cup mango chunks
    • 2 tbsp unsweetened coconut flakes
    • 1 tbsp ground flax seeds
    • ¼ cup raspberries

Directions:

Blend together frozen berries, greek yogurt, and almond milk into a thick smoothie. Pour into a bowl and top with the remaining ingredients. Feel like a goddess of health and wellness.

Vegan Lentil Curry with Brown Rice

This quick and simple curry packs in tons of protein and flavor and is the perfect go-to for #MeatlessMondays. Consuming high amounts of red meat has been proven to increase your risk of breast cancer, so cutting down whenever possible is always a great idea. Plus, a ton of these ingredients is on our cancer-fighting grocery list

Ingredients:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp of fresh, minced ginger
  • 1 jalapeño, diced with seeds removed (optional)
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dried red chili pepper (optional)
  • ½ tsp turmeric
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp whole or ground cumin
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • 1 cup red lentils, rinsed thoroughly
  • 1 can light coconut milk
  • 2 tomatoes, diced
  • 2 cups baby spinach, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup brown rice

Directions:

Cook brown rice according to package directions. In a medium saucepan, saute onions, garlic, ginger, and jalapeño in olive oil until soft. Add in spices (mustard seeds, dried chili, turmeric, cumin, and curry powder) and let them toast for about 30 seconds. Add in diced tomato, coconut milk, water, salt, pepper, and lentils, simmer for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft and fully cooked. Add in baby spinach and stir. Serve over brown rice garnished with cilantro, a lime wedge, and a side of your favorite veggie.

We know you’ll love these delicious, risk-reducing recipes. If you try them out, make sure to post your finished product on Instagram and tag @BeBrightPink so we can ❤️️your pic!

dr.-wendy-mcdonald-live-that-prevention-life
#BCAM, Assess Your Risk, Early Detection, Hey Sis

Dr. Wendy McDonald: Live That Prevention Life

Prevention Tips & How Early Detection Can Increase Your Odds of Survival

Knowledge is power. Every year for Breast Cancer Awareness Month, folks across the country take part in essential conversations about protecting our health and happiness. Through these conversations, they start to build self-knowledge—and this year, Bright Pink wants to take awareness to the next level.

This year, Bright Pink is all about Breast Cancer ACTION Month. Turn to Bright Pink throughout October to access the tools you need to be all about it, too.

To get started, all-star OB/GYN and blogger Dr. Wendy McDonald, aka Dr. Every Woman, breaks down how to turn self-awareness into cancer prevention, in plain language that everyone can understand. 

Check it out, and get your questions answered. And make sure to read all the way to the end to see the next step to protect your bright future during Breast Cancer Awareness &  ACTION Month! And, stop by Bright Pink’s Facebook page to watch our Facebook Live with Dr. Wendy.

How Early Detection Can Protect You from Breast Cancer

Dr. Wendy: First, we need to review what early detection means. 

Stage 0 and Stage 1: Both Stage 0 and Stage 1 breast cancer have over a 99% 5-year survival rate.  That means that in the 5 years after diagnosis, 99% of people will still be alive. 

Stage 2: Now, in Stage 2, the breast cancer has either spread to the lymph nodes or is significantly larger. The 5-year survival rate for Stage 2 is 93%.

Stage 3: In Stage 3, the cancer is even larger or has spread to many lymph nodes. Now the 5-year survival rate has dropped to around 85%. 

This is why early detection is so extremely important. The earlier you detect a cancer, the more likely you are to beat it. 

So many people don’t want to find out that they have cancer because they think that it is a death sentence. Instead, they should think of early breast cancer detection as a new lease on life, an opportunity to beat cancer because it was caught early. That should be a thing. 

Tools to Prepare Yourself for Early Detection & Cancer Prevention
Dr. Wendy: Personal risk assessment are a great place to start! Risk assessments analyze information that you provide to predict your personal risk of breast cancer. These tools are extremely useful in identifying whether or not you need additional screening and testing above what is recommended for the average woman .

If you know that your first- or second-degree family member(s) had a certain type of cancer, you will be more prepared to screen and catch any abnormalities. Remember that the earlier you detect breast cancer, the more likely you are to survive and fight back.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging all women to #AssessThenAct: take the Assess Your Risk quiz, and then create a preventive action plan with your personalized results. It only takes 5 minutes!

Take Bright Pink’s Assess Your Risk Quiz

Important Next Steps After Completing a Personal Risk Assessment
Dr. Wendy: Have a conversation with your doctor or healthcare provider. If your risk is elevated especially, further or different screening should be initiated.

Common Breast Cancer Risk Factors to Watch For, Especially in African American Women

Dr. Wendy: Research has shown that black women have significantly denser breast that caucasian women. Breast density refers to the amount of fibroglandular tissue present in the breast. “Fibroglandular tissue appears as white on the mammogram, making it difficult to visually detect breast cancers.” The increased density is noted even when other demographic factors like age, weight, and pregnancy history are factored in.

Increased breast density can absolutely make finding breast cancer harder. A breast cancer will also light up as white on traditional mammography, which can be hidden behind fibroglandular tissue. I often send my patients with dense breasts to have a 3-D mammogram and an ultrasound if needed. That different type of imaging, used in combination with mammography, can detect a higher number of abnormalities than traditional mammography alone. 

Dr. Wendy Weighs In On Why She Thinks People Don’t Assess Their Risk

Dr. Wendy: Lack of Family Health History: Honestly, I think that one of the barriers is knowledge of family history. Many families in various cultures just don’t share. If grandmother died of something, that was “her business.” 

Taboo Conversations: We also sometimes don’t want to “speak” illness, as if talking about it causes it in some way. While I believe in the power of positive thinking and prayer, we should be informed about what is going on in our family so that we can prevent or catch issues early in the future.

The Recommended Age for Assessing Your Risk

Dr. Wendy: 18 or younger. Why not? Ask your parents and extended family. Breast cancer family history, ovarian cancer, and colon cancer are all relevant, as are habits and personal characteristics.

This Breast Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging all women to #AssessThenAct: take the Assess Your Risk quiz, and then create a preventive action plan with your personalized results. It only takes 5 minutes!

Take Bright Pink’s Assess Your Risk Quiz

A huge thank you to Dr. Wendy McDonald for helping us put together this guide to early detection, self-awareness, and risk factors! Check out more of her advice and work on her amazing website. And, don’t forget to visit Bright Pink’s Facebook page to watch our Facebook Live with Dr. Wendy.

P.S. Dr. Wendy wants to give a gentle reminder: men can get breast cancer, too.

REAL Self Love: 8 Actions You Can Take
#BCAM, #OCAM, Aerie, Assess Your Risk

REAL Self Love: 8 Actions You Can Take

In case you didn’t know, it’s Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month and Breast Cancer Awareness Month is just around the corner. Bright Pink is on a mission to move beyond Awareness to Action and Aerie is with us! AerieREAL is committed to women’s empowerment through self-love. What better way to love yourself than to take control of your health and well-being and manage your risk of breast and ovarian cancer?

Aerie Wants You to Take Care of Your Girls!
Before we share how you can make both little and big changes in your everyday life for a bright cancer-free future, know that the limited-edition sports bra, legging and hoodie you’ll see throughout this article, are all for sale and 100% of the proceeds benefit Bright Pink and our life-saving mission!

Shop the Aerie-Bright Pink Limited Edition Collection!

The first step towards prevention for anyone with breasts and/or ovaries is to assess our hereditary and lifestyle factors.

Aerie is also donating $1 for EVERY risk assessment through October. It takes only 3 minutes to take the quiz and learn your risk and receive personalized recommendations to manage your health proactively.

Assess Your Risk of Breast & Ovarian Cancer

Cancer is a formidable disease. But we do not need to live in fear. We have the tools to set ourselves up for long, happy, healthy lives. And we do this by thinking, talking and acting proactively to reduce the risk of breast and ovarian cancer through a number of evidence-based actions.

Recent research shows that more than 40% of cancer deaths could be prevented through lifestyle strategies. Of those, early detection is among the most impactful.

When breast cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate can be 98%.

When ovarian cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate can be 92%.

close up of young woman in desert wearing Aerie and Bright Pink limited edition sports bra

The human body is amazing—and when we adopt strategies and practice daily habits that support the body’s natural disease-fighting instincts, we can reduce our cancer risk factors. Knowledge is power.

So here are 8 ways to be proactive when it comes to your breast and ovarian health.

1. Break a Sweat
Fitting in a quick 30-minute workout 5 day per week—or fewer, longer workouts if that’s more convenient—will help eliminate some of the estrogen-producing fatty tissue in our bodies.

The Department of Health and Human Services recommends 150 minutes of exercise, vigorous enough to break a sweat, each week. So grab a fitness buddy and your limited edition Aerie athletic wear and work it out.

young woman in yoga pose on desert rocks wearing Aerie and Bright Pink limited edition sports bra and legging

2. Fill Your Plate with Healthy Foods
A diet that emphasizes fruits, vegetables, and whole grains reduces our risk of developing “invasive” breast cancer, a version of the disease that is more likely to spread to other parts of the body.

Improving eating habits doesn’t have to happen all at once; we suggest working with your doctor to decrease sugar consumption and introduce more fruits and vegetables, until you’re eating well and feeling great.

3. Maintain a Healthy Weight for You
Talk to your health care advisor about what a healthy weight means for you.

Scientific studies show that an excess of the estrogen hormone increases the risk of developing breast cancer. And maintaining a healthy weight is a way to keep your estrogen levels in check.

4. Find Alternatives to Happy Hour
Get in the habit of having no more than one alcoholic drink per day, or working towards eliminating alcohol completely.

Research shows that every additional standard-sized boozy drink per day can increase the risk of breast cancer. “Standard-sized” generally means a restaurant pour of wine, a can of beer, or a shot of liquor.

5. Say No to Smoke
There’s a direct correlation between tobacco use and ovarian cancer. In fact, smoking doubles our risk of developing the disease.

The good news is that quitting smoking can lower ovarian cancer risk to average levels within 20-30 years. That may sound like a long time, but it’s a great example of how the body can bounce back from unhealthy habits.

6. Ask Your Doc About the Pill
Research has shown that taking birth control pills for 5 years in our 20s and 30s—and it doesn’t have to be 5 years in a row—can reduce our ovarian cancer risk by up to 50%. That makes taking oral contraceptives, one of the most powerful methods of ovarian cancer risk reduction.

Side note: you may have heard that taking birth control pills can increase the risk of developing breast cancer. There is a minimal, but real, increase in the risk of breast cancer among women who use hormonal oral contraceptives for 5 or more years. Research indicates that this risk decreases over time after you stop taking contraceptives. However, as with most health decisions, the choice whether or not to take birth control pills is very personal. Talk with your healthcare provider to weigh the potential risks and benefits as part of your proactive plan.

Assess Your Risk & Aerie Will Donate $1 to Bright Pink

7. Know Your Normal
It can be hard to diagnose the symptoms of ovarian cancer, since they are so similar to symptoms of other problems. Try to stay aware of any digestion issues, pelvic or abdominal pains, or pains during intercourse that persist and prompt a visit to your doctor.

Check in with your breasts regularly to know what is normal for you. (the week after your period is a good time). Remember to cover all of your breast tissue (from your collarbone, out to your armpits, down to your breastbone) and notice any changes in size, shape, bumps, lumps, dimpling, or pulling that are out of the ordinary for you.

8. Assess Your Risk
Aerie is Donating $1 for EVERY Completed Risk Assessment. This is the time to take the 3 minute quiz.

When it comes to breast and ovarian cancer prevention, it’s essential to think, talk, and act proactively.

The first step towards prevention for anyone with breasts and/or ovaries is to assess our hereditary and lifestyle factors. By knowing our risk factors, we empower and protect ourselves. And by taking care of our bodies through healthy choices, we reduce our risk.

Right now, you can learn your personal cancer risk in just 3 minutes by taking the Assess Your Risk (AYR) quiz. Plus, AYR provides simple, personalized steps to take charge of your breast and ovarian health.

Try the tool that has helped more than 1.5 million women gain power over their health and plan proactively to protect themselves from breast and ovarian cancer.

Here’s a simple first step—take the Assess Your Risk quiz today!

Aerie Obsessed!
We can’t get enough of our latest collection with Aerie. It is so good! If you’re loving it as much as us, remember Aerie is donating 100% of the sales to Bright Pink—even more of a reason to shop before it’s gone.

Shop the Aerie-Bright Pink Limited Edition Collection!

#OCAM, Assess Your Risk

How “Knowing Your Normal” Can Save Your Life

We all have those days. The days we go all out at our favorite ice cream place and our stomach painfully reminds us why we don’t eat a ton of dairy. Or those days when it’s “that time of the month” and our stomach is in knots or we seem to spend a lot more time in the bathroom. Those days aren’t fun, but they can be part of a normal, healthy life for women. 

However, sometimes they aren’t. Each year, about 20,000 women in the U.S. receive a diagnosis of ovarian cancer after they notice things like digestive issues, abdominal pain, frequent urges to pee that don’t go away. 

This can be a scary reality but there are steps you can take to prevent your risk of ovarian and breast cancer. If you have the power to take your future health into your hands, why wouldn’t you?

concerned young woman

The first step is to know your risk. Take 5 minutes to Assess Your Risk and receive your results with personalized prevention recommendations that you can implement today.

Early detection is also key– the earlier the stage, the easier it is to find successful treatment options. Ovarian cancer is no exception, but as many health providers will tell you, finding ovarian cancer in its early stages is extremely challenging. First of all, there are no regular screening tests for women (no, your Pap smear isn’t checking for ovarian cancer!). Secondly, since your ovaries are located pretty deep within your body, you often can’t physically feel any initial changes in their size or shape from developing tumors. 

Because ovarian cancer is not as easily detected it is so important that you recognize the signs and symptoms and know your normal to catch it as early as possible. 

woman looking in bathroom mirror

So what are you looking for?

Primary symptoms of ovarian cancer include:  

  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Prolonged bloating
  • Frequently needing to pee
  • Having trouble eating or feeling full quickly

Secondary Symptoms include: 

  • Upset stomach
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Menstrual changes
  • Pain during intercourse

These problems can be signs that something isn’t right. (Find out more about watching for these symptoms)  

You may be thinking – that just sounds like a normal period! And you’re right, you may have some of these symptoms for a day or two around your period. However, when these symptoms don’t go away – you consistently have them for 2-3 weeks and they aren’t improving – you should check in with a healthcare provider. 

uncomfortable woman wrapped in blanket

Do these symptoms sound like your life for the past month or so? If so, don’t panic. Ovarian cancer is one of many conditions that could cause these problems. However, you still need to talk to your provider about these symptoms so they can run tests for ovarian cancer – especially if you have a family history of cancer (not just ovarian!) and/or a genetic mutation that could increase your risk.

While women without a family history or genetic mutations have about a 1.3% chance of developing ovarian cancer in their lifetime, women with a family history of cancer or a genetic mutation have a much higher risk. Some genetic mutations can raise your risk of developing ovarian cancer to almost 50% over your lifetime. (Don’t know your family history? We got you!

This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is a perfect time to take charge of your ovarian health, so you’ll be informed and ready to face any symptoms life may throw your way well before you start feeling them. 

Take the first step to cancer prevention and early detection.

Find out your ovarian (and breast) cancer risk with Bright Pink’s Assess Your Risk quiz and start living proactively today! 

#OCAM, Assess Your Risk

#AssessThenAct: All About Genetic Testing

Worrying about developing breast and ovarian cancer is only natural—but you don’t have to be in the dark about your risk factors. If you know or suspect that your family has a history of breast or ovarian cancer, you have options. Genetic testing is a powerful tool that can help you put aside your doubts and become self-aware when it comes to your health. Getting a genetic test might be part of your personalized plan for cancer prevention—and knowing your risk factors is a key first step.

This Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, we’re encouraging everyone to #AssessThenAct: take the Assess Your Risk quiz, and then create a preventative action plan to protect your health. Get started in just 5 minutes today.

Take the Assess Your Risk Quiz

Sis, have you ever contemplated genetic testing (a type of medical test that identifies changes in chromosomes, genes, or proteins)? It’s a powerful way to take charge of your breast and ovarian health that can 

  • Confirm or rule out a suspected mutation in your DNA or
  • Help determine your chance of developing or passing on a genetic disorder. 

While there can be significant benefits to the knowledge gained through genetic testing, we know this isn’t always easy, especially for women of color. We are not blind to the fact that there is mistrust in the medical system in part due to widely publicized experiments, and racial bias in the healthcare system. Before signing up for genetic testing, many Black women have to overcome deeply-rooted concern about the potential misuse of DNA results and mistrust of health research, which has not always benefited them and was sometimes conducted without their consent. We hope that learning more about the benefits of testing, what to expect, and which professionals to rely on throughout the process will help you make informed choices that are right for you.

Understanding Your Genetics is Important

When you want to be proactive about your health…

Understanding the basics of genetics—especially how mutations can lead to a higher risk of certain cancers—gives you better information about your overall health plan. About genetic testing. And about discussions to have with your healthcare provider.

When your family history indicates a pattern…

A family history of cancer may mean there’s an underlying genetic cause. Once you understand how genes and mutations work, you’re better equipped to work through your family history—and better equipped for conversations with your healthcare provider or a genetic counselor.

Your healthcare provider is likely to recommend testing if you have certain medically significant risk factors. If your personal or family health history includes any of the following (from the National Comprehensive Cancer Network), you should strongly consider testing.

  • Breast cancer by age 45
  • Breast cancer by 50 AND a close relative with breast or ovarian cancer by 50
  • Male breast cancer in your family
  • Breast cancer at any age AND two or more relatives with breast cancer at any age
  • Cancer in both breasts
  • Ovarian, primary peritoneal or fallopian cancer at any age
  • A close relative with a BRCA mutation or another mutation that increases the risk of developing cancer.
  • Triple-negative breast cancer

When you’re curious, or you want to fill in the gaps…

A complete family history means going back at least three generations. That’s not always possible, so understanding your own genetic makeup can help you—and your healthcare provider—work backward to fill in the gaps. And even if you’re simply curious about your own health, understanding your genetic risks is a proactive way to get a better overall view.

Asking the Right Questions

Finding someone to talk to is one thing, but being sure that you are asking the right questions… is another. Some questions that you should consider include:

  • Am I a candidate for genetic testing? Should I consider it?
  • Do you have any good ways to spark discussions with my relatives about our health history?
  • Based on my family history, what’s my chance of testing positive for a genetic mutation? What’s my projected risk for developing breast and/or ovarian cancer?
  • If someone in my family has tested positive for a known genetic mutation, what are the chances that I’m also a carrier?
  • What type of test do you recommend?
  • What’s our plan if I test positive, negative, VUS?
  • What type of cancer screenings do you recommend for me if I decide not to get tested?

We’ve gone ahead and created a full list of questions to help guide your conversations with your healthcare provider or genetic counselor.

At the end of the day, the more you understand about your personal risk for breast and ovarian cancer, the better equipped you’ll be to make the healthy choices that are right for you. So you can live your best life.

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