Mercy Gyn-Oncologist Dr. Teresa Diaz-Montes Discusses The Challenge of Diagnosing Ovarian Cancer Early
A 48-year-old woman is lucky to be alive. The Baltimore native was diagnosed with stage four ovarian cancer-- a disease known as the silent killer. Now, she's doing well and has a message to share.
The day after major surgery to remove cancer that had spread to many parts of her body, Paige Gizza was out of her Mercy Medical Center hospital bed and walking around. A fighter, she was determined to beat her ovarian cancer diagnosis.
"When you start to take action, it becomes empowering, and so I decided I'm going to live," Giza said.
Approximately 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer every year in the United States, and about 14,000 die from it. One of the reasons the mortality rate is high is because there is no general screening for it.
According to Teresa P. Diaz-Montes, M.D., MPH, FACOG, Associate Director of The Lya Segall Ovarian Cancer Institute at Mercy, the symptoms are nonspecific and common.
"The symptoms in ovarian cancer are like bloating, indigestion or changes in the movement of your bowels," Dr. Diaz-Montes said.
Paige was being treated elsewhere at the time and didn't notice any signs until her belly "popped out" one day she had trouble breathing and eating.
"They did a CT of my abdomen and she called and said it's very worrisome-- it's your ovaries," Gizza said.
"75% of women, when they are diagnosed, it's at advanced stage and that's like a stage three or four," Dr. Diaz-Montes said.
Thanks to doctors at Mercy, her faith and her family, Gizza is now cancer-free one full year.
Gizza's grandmother had the disease and she wishes those discussions and screenings were done prior to her coming to Mercy, considering her history.
"If you have this in your life, if you have breast cancer, colon cancer, ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor," Gizza said.
As Dr. Diaz-Montes explained, constipation and frequent urination can also be symptoms of ovarian cancer, but those things are fairly common. She noted that it is particularly important to see your doctor if you have symptoms that are persistent and that ultra-sounds and cat scans are helpful diagnostic tools.
View Mercy gynecologic oncologist Dr. Teresa Diaz-Montes’ interview regarding ovarian cancer, its diagnosis and treatment.
Founded in 1874 in downtown Baltimore by the Sisters of Mercy, Mercy Medical Center is a 183-licensed bed acute care university-affiliated teaching hospital. Mercy has been recognized as a top Maryland hospital by U.S. News & World Report; a Top 100 hospital for Women’s Health & Orthopedics by Healthgrades; is currently A-rated for Hospital Safety (Leapfrog Group), and is recognized by the American Nurses Credentialing Center as a Magnet Hospital. Mercy Medical Center is part of Mercy Health Services (MHS), the parent of Mercy’s primary care and specialty care physician enterprise, known as Mercy Personal Physicians, which employs more than 200 providers with locations in Baltimore, Lutherville, Overlea, Glen Burnie, Columbia and Reisterstown. For more information about Mercy, visit www.mdmercy.com, MDMercyMedia on Facebook, Twitter, or call 1-800-MD-Mercy.