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Ovarian Cancer

As many as 22,500 women every year are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, a devastating form of cancer which develops in one or both of a woman’s ovaries. Once thought of as a disease associated with age and family history, ovarian cancer is now also understood to be connected to environmental risk factors, including the use of talcum powder.

According to a 2012 review by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), ovarian cancer is one of four cancer types that can concretely be linked to asbestos exposure. Asbestos is widely known to have been used in building materials, but its use went far beyond that, often found in consumer products containing talcum powder or talc. Asbestos has been detected in baby powders and cosmetics such as lipstick, mascara, blush, eye shadow, foundation and even makeup for children. Female consumers who applied cosmetic powder products to their bodies may have unknowingly exposed themselves to asbestos and increased their risk of developing ovarian cancer. A Harvard Medical School study found that women who used talcum powder around their genital area had a 40 percent increased chance of developing this disease and even less frequent use of talcum powder products demonstrated an elevated risk of ovarian cancer. As a result, very recently, Johnson & Johnson discontinued distributing their iconic talc-based baby powders throughout North America.

Women who worked in industries where they may have been exposed to asbestos—such as construction or the military—tend to have higher rates of ovarian cancer. Also, women whose spouses worked in these industries may have sustained secondhand exposure to asbestos particles from the skin, hair, and clothes of their partners. Asbestos particles can then travel through the bloodstream or lymphatic system to become lodged in soft tissue, like ovaries, rendering these women particularly vulnerable.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer do not outwardly manifest until after it has already spread in the pelvis and abdomen. Some of the symptoms include bloating, pain during intercourse, digestive problems, frequent urination and general fatigue. It’s important for women to regularly keep track of their health and immediately consult a gynecologist if they experience any of these symptoms. A pelvic exam followed by a CT, MRI or PET scan can be used for diagnostic purposes and ultimately a follow-up surgical probe can determine the extent of the cancer so that a treatment plan can be formulated.

There may be compensation available to women whose ovarian cancer relates to the willful concealment or negligence of a company whose product contained asbestos. After consulting with a medical professional, it’s important to locate legal counsel who can help you secure the compensation you deserve. Meirowitz & Wasserberg can help you navigate the legal hurdles you or a loved one may face. We can help you achieve compensation to defray medical costs, provide for your family if your income is impacted, and grant some degree of emotional consolation and sense of justice.