September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. And some First State cities and towns are taking action to make more people aware of this form of cancer.
State statistics show occurrences of ovarian cancer in Delaware decreased 25% between the years 2000 and 2014, and the mortality rate fell by 20%.
But building awareness of this cancer remains a priority. And 12 cities and towns across Delaware are participating in a national campaign to build awareness of it.
The Turn the Towns Teal campaign was started several years ago by an ovarian cancer survivor in New Jersey.
“She thought there was not enough being done to increase awareness about ovarian cancer,” said Sally Oberle, the vice president of the Delaware Ovarian Cancer Foundation.
She says when she heard that survivor’s story, she brought Turn the Towns Teal to the First State.
Oberle says tying the teal bows on light poles is an effort to get people talking about ovarian cancer and supporting women diagnosed with it.
“I know that there’s a national number given that says usually 22,000 new cases are diagnosed and more than three-quarters of them do not survive even five years," said Oberle. "Most of the time since it’s found so late, the mortality rate is quite significant.”
Oberle says cities and towns in Delaware joining Turn the Towns Teal include Rehoboth, Georgetown, Milton, Millsboro, Lewes, Dover, Smyrna, Delaware City, Middletown, Newark, New Castle and the Wilmington Riverfront.
“At Rehoboth Beach, I really appreciate Mayor (Paul) Kuhns stepping up and again, for the second year, allow us to put the teal bows. We’re reaching not only the residents but the thousands of visitors that come here to get them to ask questions about the teal - what is the significance,” Oberle said.
Oberle says that increases ovarian cancer awareness and education and builds support for women diagnosed with it.
She notes there is currently no test for ovarian cancer so knowledge of the vague symptoms is crucial.
State statistics show Delaware’s ovarian cancer incidence and mortality rates are about the same as they are nationwide - between 10 and 12 incidences per 100,000 women and just over 7 deaths per 100,000.
Oberle says all women are at risk, affecting 1 in 70 females of any age. Due to the late diagnosis - less than 20% are diagnosed early - and a high recurrence rate (70-90%), ovarian cancer is the deadliest of gynecological cancers.
To read more about cancer incidence and mortality in Delaware, click here.