Ovarian Cancer is one of the most deadly of women’s cancers — an estimated 1 woman in 75 will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime.
September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, a time to bring attention to the facts about this disease, as well as the signs and symptoms, which can help women identify it earlier when the survival rate is better.
Get the Facts
- Ovarian cancer typically occurs in women in their fifties and sixties with the median age being 63.
- Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a genetic history that may include carrying the BRCA mutation gene and having a strong family history of ovarian cancer.
- Every 24 minutes another woman is diagnosed with ovarian cancer in the United States.
- 14,070 women will die this year from the disease.
- The Pap test does NOT test for ovarian cancer.
Ovarian Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Unfortunately, many women don’t seek help until the disease has begun to spread, but if detected at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 93 percent. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with other ailments. Symptoms may include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often
Other symptoms may include:
- Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
- Extreme fatigue
- Shortness of breath
- Weight gain
- Upset stomach or heartburn
- Pain during sex
- Menstrual changes
There is currently no adequate screening test for ovarian cancer, which is one of the reasons this cancer is often discovered in later stages.
Talk to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2-3 weeks. You are your best advocate.
Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis
To diagnosis your condition, your doctor may order the following tests.
- Physical examination, including observations regarding discomfort and tenderness of your abdomen.
- Pelvic examination.
- Blood test. Your doctor may order a CA-125 blood test, which measures CA-125 in the blood. CA-125 is found on the surface of ovarian cancer cells and also normal tissue. A high CA-125 level may indicate ovarian cancer or other conditions.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
Ovarian cancer does not discriminate. It can strike a woman of any race or at any age. Research has found that women with certain risk factors may have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer. These risk factors include:
- Family history of breast or ovarian cancer.
- Personal history of cancer.
- Women over age 55.
- Women who were never pregnant.
- Women on menopausal hormone replacement therapy.
The information on this blog is provided for general information purposes and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, care, treatment or evaluation; nor should it be used in diagnosing a health condition. You are encouraged to consult your health care provider if you or a family member has or suspect you have a medical problem.