September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month.
In the U.S., ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women and causes more deaths than any other gynecological cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s why Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month is dedicated to focusing attention on this serious disease by educating people on ways to prevent and treat ovarian cancer and finding ways to help those who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
What is Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is cancer that originates in the ovaries. The ovaries are small, almond-shaped organs located on either side of the uterus. The ovaries produce and store eggs (germ cells). They also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.
One of the things that make ovarian cancer so dangerous is that there are no noticeable symptoms in its early stages. It often goes undiagnosed until it has spread to other parts of the body. Unfortunately, by this time ovarian cancer may be difficult, if not impossible to treat.
In 2021, it’s estimated that just over 21,000 cases of ovarian cancer will be diagnosed. Slightly over half of them are expected to die as a result of their ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer mainly develops in older women.
Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Pelvic or abdominal (belly) pain
- Changes in urination, such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)
- Fatigue (extreme tiredness)
- Upset stomach
- Changes in a woman’s period, such as heavier bleeding than normal or irregular bleeding
- Back pain
- Abdominal (belly) swelling with weight loss
- Pain during sex
The problem is, many of these symptoms are associated with other medical conditions as well. If you’ve been noticing a change in the frequency and severity of any of these symptoms, you’ll want to see a doctor at once.
Treatment for ovarian cancer can include surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, and hormone therapy. Treatment plans are based on the type of ovarian cancer, its stage, and any special situations.
The five-year survival rate is over 90% when ovarian cancer is diagnosed and treated in its earliest stages. Unfortunately, only 20% of cases are detected in stage I or II, when treatment options are most effective.
Social Security Disability Benefits for Ovarian Cancer
We’d like to take a look at how women who are unable to work because of the symptoms of their ovarian cancer can obtain disability benefits through the Social Security Administration.
The SSA’s Blue Book is a document that lists the disabling impairments recognized by the SSA and the criteria for qualifying for benefits. Ovarian cancer has its own entry under section 13.00 – Cancers Adult.
To obtain Social Security benefits the symptoms of your ovarian cancer have to match those in the listing for ovarian cancer. You must be able to show that your ovarian cancer:
- Has extended beyond the pelvis; for example, implants on, or direct extension to, peritoneal, omental, or bowel surfaces.
- Metastases to or beyond the regional lymph nodes.
- Is recurrent following initial anticancer therapy.
In addition, you must demonstrate that the symptoms of your ovarian cancer are so severe that you are unable to work. Evidence should include medical reports, test results, doctors’ notes, hospitalization records, and others.
Appealing a Decision to Deny Social Security Disability Benefits for Ovarian Cancer
If the SSA denies your claim, you can appeal their decision. To avoid the mistakes that caused your original disability claim to be denied, you’ll want to get professional help. Houston disability benefits attorney M. Stanley Whitehead is a board certified Social Security attorney who has helped women all over the country obtain disability benefits even after their original claims were denied. In many cases, an applicant’s claim is denied simply because they failed to provide the information the SSA needed to make a decision.
Contact the Law Offices of M. Stanley Whitehead through our website or call us at (713) 993-7311 to discuss your Social Security disability benefits claim for ovarian cancer.