September marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

September marks Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

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Family photo following Melissa Biles' hysterectomy. (Courtesy: Melissa Biles) Family photo following Melissa Biles' hysterectomy. (Courtesy: Melissa Biles)
Biles had a noticeable lump in her abdomen, but often there are no symptoms present with ovarian cancer patients. (Courtesy: Melissa Biles) Biles had a noticeable lump in her abdomen, but often there are no symptoms present with ovarian cancer patients. (Courtesy: Melissa Biles)
LAS VEGAS (FOX5) -

Ovarian cancer is called the silent killer because it often goes undetected until it's too late. That's why doctors say it's so important for women to pay attention to their health.

Melissa Biles knows this firsthand. Earlier this year she noticed a lump in her abdomen. She figured it was scar tissue from a prior surgery, but over several months it continued to grow.

Biles finally went to her OB-GYN.

"As soon as she saw it and felt it, she immediately knew something was wrong," Biles said.

The mother and wife was sent to a cancer specialist. After several tests, it was determined she had a large tumor on her ovary, and she had to undergo an full hysterectomy. All of this happened within a week.

Biles' doctor said it's fortunate the cancer had not spread, and her prognosis looks good.

"It's a very inactive cancer that I have, so I got very lucky," Biles said.

The National Cancer Institute said in 2013, more than 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer and 14,000 women will die from it.

Biles knew something was wrong with her abdomen, but many women will never feel or see outward symptoms.

"There's no magic test to detect ovarian cancer, which is really unfortunate because when found early, the survival rates are very high," Dr. Aimee Fleury from the Women's Cancer Center of Nevada said.

The National Cancer Institute said the five-year survival rate is above 90 percent, but only about 15 percent of cases are detected early enough.

Fleury said the symptoms are vague if they do appear, like bloating, nausea and fatigue.

She said women need to be aware of their bodies and always get their yearly exams.

"New masses can be felt on exams, which may prompt further evaluation with imaging studies such as ultrasound or CT scans," Fleury said.

Pay attention to family history as well. Biles' grandmother died of ovarian cancer.

Biles said she's blessed to have made it through OK for her family. She urges other women to take care of themselves and get to their doctors.

"I just kept putting it off and saying, 'I'll get to the doctor when I have time, I'll get to the doctor when I have time.' When it comes to your health and your body, you have to be proactive," Biles said.

The Cancer Center has a foundation called Owareness to help patients and support research.

It's holding a fundraiser bowl-a-thon at the South Point Bowling Center on Sept. 15 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Special guests Jerry Rice and Criss Angel will be there. Register here at owareness.com.

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