The mounting lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson claiming that talcum powder use for personal hygiene causes ovarian cancer has put the spotlight on this deadly disease. It is an especially aggressive form of cancer in woman that causes the most reproductive cancer fatalities. If you suspect that you may have developed ovarian cancer from use of talcum powder on your genital area, here is what you need to know about ovarian cancer.
Who Is at Risk of Developing Ovarian Cancer?
Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that develops in a woman’s ovaries, which are small organs the size of an almond that produce eggs and the hormones progesterone and estrogen. Certain women have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Some risk factors include:
- Being between the ages of 50 and 64
- Inheriting a gene mutation, such as breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2)
- Taking estrogen replacement drugs, especially if the usage was long-term and the dosage was high
- Having menstruation begin before 12 years old, undergoing menopause after 52 years old, or both
- Having never been pregnant
- Undergoing fertility treatments
- Use of an intrauterine device
- Use of talcum powder on the genital areas, sanitary napkin, or tampons
If you are at high risk of developing ovarian cancer because of talcum powder use or another risk factor, your doctor may recommend an annual pelvic ultrasound and blood test to monitor your condition.
What Are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
One of the reasons that ovarian cancer is so deadly is that most women do not experience symptoms until the disease has progressed to a more aggressive stage. Even advanced-stage ovarian cancer may only cause a few nonspecific symptoms that can also be associated with other common medical conditions. If you have used talcum powder and are worried about your ovarian cancer risk, watch for these symptoms:
- Bloating or swelling of your abdomen
- Feeling full quickly after you eat
- Experiencing weight loss
- Feeling discomfort in your pelvic area
- Change in your bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Having a more frequent need to urinate
How Does Talcum Powder Cause Ovarian Cancer?
When a woman uses talcum powder to dust her genitals, sanitary napkins, or tampons—usually over a period of four years or longer—the fine particles of talcum powder can pass into her vagina, through her reproductive system, and into her ovaries. Once there, these talc fibers can become imbedded in ovarian tissue, causing inflammation and irritation that leads to damage to the DNA cells and growth of ovarian cancer cells. Numerous studies going back decades have found that women who regularly used Johnson’s Baby Powder or Shower to Shower have a significantly increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Treatment Options for Ovarian Cancer
Because ovarian cancer has often metastasized and spread to other parts of the body by the time it is diagnosed, treatments may be less effective. However, new cancer drugs are being developed all the time, and you do not want to give up hope if you have an advanced stage of this disease. Usually a combination of these treatments is utilized:
- Surgery. If ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, only one ovary and fallopian tube may be removed, especially if the woman wants to have children. For later stages of the cancer, the surgery can be much more major and include removal of both ovaries, fallopian tubes, uterus, nearby lymph nodes, and the fatty abdominal tissue where the cancer cells often spread.
- Chemotherapy. After surgery, a woman will often undergo chemotherapy to hopefully kill any other cancer cells. The drugs are usually administered through a vein and/or into the abdominal cavity.
What Should You Do If You Suspect Talcum Powder Use Caused Your Ovarian Cancer?
Over 2,000 women who developed ovarian cancer, or their families if they died, have filed individual lawsuits and at least two class action lawsuits have been filed against Johnson & Johnson claiming the company failed to warn them of the dangers of talcum powder. Three of these individual lawsuits were decided at jury trials in 2016, with the jury awarding between $55 and $72 million—much of the awards being punitive damages.
If you suspect that talcum powder use caused your ovarian cancer, you need an experienced personal injury attorney to investigate your claim and pursue your claim for compensation. Christopher J. Hudson, LLC is here to answer your questions and fight to obtain the damages you may be entitled to. Call our office today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.