The Ambiguous Symptoms of Talcum Powder Cancer
Learn to Recognize Common Warning Signs of Ovarian Cancer
Wednesday, September 25, 2019 - Ovarian cancer is a deadly disease that affects 1 in 78 women during their lifetime. Approximately 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year in the United States, and researchers say some of these cases can be linked back to the use of talc-based powders and freshening products. Unfortunately, there are rarely warning signs in the early stages of talcum powder cancer. By the time symptoms become recognizable, the disease has typically reached an advanced stage.
Aware that symptoms rarely give an early warning, medical practitioners rely on a variety of other indicators to assist with diagnosis. Many women assume a pap smear will test for all forms of carcinoma in the female reproductive system. In fact, it does not test for disease in the ovaries. To detect cancer of the ovaries, doctors rely on transvaginal ultrasound and a CA-125 blood test.
This method of screening is not foolproof because only 50% of women demonstrate elevated CA-125 levels in the early stages of the illness. Therefore, clinicians must piece together other aspects of a patient's history, along with any presenting symptoms.
Increasingly, doctors are taking into consideration the possibility of talcum powder cancer. Research shows that women who have used talc-based products for routine feminine hygiene over the course of decades may face a 30-40% increase in ovarian cancer risk. These products include Johnson's Baby Powder and Shower to Shower. If a woman is experiencing symptoms of the disease, which include bloating, an urgency to urinate, and increased abdomen size, and also has a history of using talc products, the doctor may conduct a transvaginal ultrasound.
Besides baby powder use, other factors that increase the risk of ovarian cancer are using fertility drugs without becoming pregnant, obesity, Lynch syndrome, certain breast cancer susceptibility genes, and a personal or family history of certain other carcinomas such as breast, uterine, ovarian, or colorectal cancer. A patient's age is also a factor; women age 60 or older face a higher risk for developing the disease.
Certain facts in a patient's history may also decrease the chance that bloating symptoms are a sign of cancer. These include taking oral contraceptives ("the pill") for at least five years, tubal ligation following childbearing, childbearing, and breastfeeding.
Talcum powder cancer is thought to occur when talc particles are introduced to the female reproductive system via perineal dusting. After migrating through the fallopian tubes, talc particles may come to rest in the ovaries and stimulate an inflammatory response, which can set the stage for abnormal cell development. Talc particles may remain present and intact in the ovaries for decades, and many diagnoses take place after a patient has used talc products for thirty or more years.
Unfortunately, there are few early signs of ovarian cancer. In most instances, the disease is not detected until it has become advanced or spread to another system. Approximately 14,000 women die of ovarian cancer each year in the United States.
Johnson & Johnson currently faces more than 12,000 lawsuits in the United States filed by women who developed cancer and have a history of using Baby Powder or another talc product.