Posted on: Monday, February 11, 2013
New book offers behind-the-scenes look at the diagnosis, treatment and research of the disease
“We are not doing as well as we ought to be doing,” says Benedict B. Benigno, M.D., in a new book about the disease on which he has focused his 30+-year medical career. “The Ultimate Guide to Ovarian Cancer” is a breakthrough book, in which Dr. Benigno, a board-certified gynecologic oncologist at Northside Hospital and the founder of the Ovarian Cancer Institute and University Gynecologic Oncology in Atlanta, offers a compassionate, easy to understand and in-depth look at the cancer process, using ovarian cancer as the model.
“The ideas kept spinning around in my head and did not stop until I wrote the book,” says Dr. Benigno, who has treated hundreds of patients with ovarian cancer throughout his long career, some as young as 16.
According to the American Cancer Society, nearly 25,000 American women will get ovarian cancer this year. No screening test exists for this disease, and symptoms often are vague and mistaken for other illnesses. In most cases, the cancer is diagnosed in advanced stages, thus requiring extensive surgery and heavy doses of chemotherapy. The recurrence rate for ovarian cancer is close to 80 percent, which means most patients will need additional chemotherapy and sometimes more surgery. The cure rate for a stage one ovarian cancer is greater than 90 percent.
After making the decision to limit his practice to patients with ovarian cancer, Dr. Benigno was able to get involved in research trials and develop a referral center for women with the disease. Dr. Benigno currently serves as principal investigator for numerous clinical trials for ovarian cancer. He has made it his mission to find a successful diagnostic test for ovarian cancer, as well as the discovery of more efficacious and less toxic forms of treatment, and, ultimately, a cure for the disease.
“The drive in all of the research efforts stems from the fact that the disease is almost always so far advanced when the diagnosis is first made,” says Dr. Benigno. “There is no Pap smear for ovarian cancer and it would be very thrilling to make a difference.”
“The Ultimate Guide” is not your typical cancer book. Interwoven throughout the book are Dr. Benigno’s own patient experiences, as well as the stories of survivors who beat the odds and the remarkable journey of one memorable patient, “Dana,” through the entire spectrum of ovarian cancer.
“The book is first and foremost a story,” says Dr. Benigno. “I have tried to avoid the dreariness that accompanies most medical writing. I want to encourage women to become proactive and take charge of their health care decisions, when symptoms first arise.”
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