The high prevalence of ovarian cancer misdiagnosis among women who use hair relaxers

Treven Pyles

By Treven Pyles

Posted on January 22nd, 2023

Ovarian cancer has been dubbed "the silent killer" for decades by the medical community, and for a good reason. The disease is often misdiagnosed, being mistaken for more common, less serious health conditions, which has led to a very low survival rate. Up to 70% of women with ovarian cancer receive the correct diagnosis when it is too late.

Causing more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system, ovarian cancer is one of the most commonly misdiagnosed diseases. Every year, approximately 20,000 women receive this diagnosis, whereas over 13,000 pass away from it. The risk of developing ovarian cancer is 1 in 78. There are many reasons why ovarian cancer is so frequently misdiagnosed, one of them being that its symptoms are similar to those of more common and less serious health problems, such as irritable bowel syndrome. Furthermore, there is no screening test for ovarian cancer, making it challenging to detect in the early phases when treatment can be very effective.

While a survival rate of 60% to 90% is possible with timely diagnosis, when ovarian cancer is found in advanced stages, the survival rate drops to a grim 20%. The lifetime risk of dying from ovarian cancer is 1 in 108. When it comes to ovarian cancer stemming from the use of hair relaxers, the misdiagnosis rate is even higher, as many doctors fail to consider the impact of the endocrine-disrupting chemicals lurking in these products on women's reproductive systems. For this reason, if you regularly use chemical hair relaxers and experience the following symptoms, which may indicate ovarian cancer, it is crucial to seek medical attention:

  • abdominal bloating
  • discomfort in the pelvic area
  • lower back pain
  • feeling full after eating small meals
  • changes in bowel habits
  • a frequent need to urinate
  • unintentional weight loss
  • tiredness and fatigue
  • vaginal bleeding after menopause

Upon your medical visit, it is essential to inform your physician that you have been regularly using hair relaxers that contain endocrine-disrupting chemicals. This way, they will be aware of the possibility that you developed ovarian cancer. Two diagnostic tools for ovarian cancer are currently available - a test that will measure the CA-125 protein in your blood and a transvaginal ultrasound that will detect any abnormalities in your ovaries. If ovarian cancer is suspected, you will most likely have to undergo a biopsy to confirm or disprove the diagnosis, during which a surgeon will collect a tissue sample from your ovary.

Only 16% of ovarian cancer cases are found in the early stages

Ovarian cancer misdiagnosis can easily lead to the spread of the disease, which could result in severe health consequences, including death. The most common ovarian cancer type, high-grade serous ovarian cancer, is also the most aggressive, tending to spread extremely fast, so any delay in diagnosis can have dire repercussions. Some of the most serious health complications of untreated ovarian cancer are infertility, kidney damage, leukemia, hearing loss, neuropathy, and colon perforations. Most of these complications are irreversible, so if you believe you have ovarian cancer but were misdiagnosed, you should immediately look for a second and even a third opinion.

The following are just some of the diseases and health conditions ovarian cancer can be mistaken for even by the most experienced medical specialists in women who use chemical hair relaxers:

  • uterine fibroids
  • inflammatory bowel disease
  • endometriosis
  • pelvic inflammatory disease
  • urinary tract infections
  • ovarian cysts
  • irritable bowel syndrome
  • fallopian tube cancer
  • gastrointestinal problems
  • hydrosalpinx
  • ovulation pain
  • tuboovarian abscess
  • chronic ectopic pregnancy
  • premenstrual syndrome
  • indigestion
  • diverticulitis

Ovarian cancer should no longer be thought of as a silent killer, as recognizing the symptoms early can lead to a timely diagnosis that can potentially be life-saving. Even though the symptoms of this disease mimic those of numerous others, medical professionals should consider the risk factors the patient has in her life, including whether she has been exposed to endocrine-disrupting chemicals from hair relaxers. Ovarian cancer is a hormone-sensitive cancer, requiring a hormone for growth and survival, so exposure to any substance that can interfere with the endocrine system might eventually trigger it. There are other risk factors for ovarian cancer doctors should take into account, such as obesity, having children later in life or no children at all, a family history of colorectal or breast cancer, smoking, and taking hormones after menopause.

Our skilled attorneys provide quality legal assistance to women with ovarian cancer due to toxic hair relaxers

With over 30 years of experience in pursuing financial compensation for people whose health was compromised due to toxic exposure or using defective products, our attorneys will gladly help you determine whether you are eligible to file a toxic hair relaxer claim. The only documents you will have to provide our resourceful legal team with are your medical records stating your ovarian cancer diagnosis and evidence of using hair relaxers, such as receipts or hair salon bills. If you are too ill to participate in the legal process, a family member can help you.

Once we deem you eligible for compensation, our diligent attorneys will promptly begin working on your claim and prepare it for submission. We will do all in our power to obtain the largest sum of money you deserve for your suffering. Because we know how challenging and overwhelming struggling with cancer can be, our compassionate team will guide you through the legal process with minimal involvement on your part so that you can focus on your health. It is important to know that our law firm operates on a contingency fee basis.