Ovarian Cancer: What You Need to Know

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Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecological cancer in the United States. It causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.

It’s important to pay attention to your body and know what is normal for you. Ovarian cancer often causes signs and symptoms, but when it is found in its early stages, your chances of recovery increase.

Symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a health care professional. StarMed Healthcare offers a variety of women’s health services. You can book an appointment here or call 704-941-6000.

There is no screening test for ovarian cancer, which could detect it early. That makes it vital for you to recognize warning signs and learn what you can do to reduce your risk.

What are the warning signs?

The ovaries are small organs located on either side of your uterus that produce eggs and several hormones. Ovarian cancer occurs when cancerous cells develop in, near, or on the outer layer of one or both ovaries.

Contact your healthcare provider if you are concerned about any of the following:

  • Pain or pressure in your hip or pelvic area.
  • Feeling bloated.
  • Pain in your stomach or back.
  • Changes in bathroom habits, such as more frequent or less frequent urges to use the restroom.
  • Feeling full too quickly or having difficulty eating.

What are the risk factors?

Several factors may increase your likelihood for ovarian cancer, including:

  • You are middle-aged or older.
  • You have a mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother who has had ovarian cancer.
  • You’re overweight.
  • You have never had children or have had trouble getting pregnant.
  • You’ve had breast, uterine, or colon cancer.

If one or more of these factors is true for you, it does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. But you should speak with your doctor about your risk. If you or your family have a history of ovarian cancer, also speak to your doctor about genetic counseling.

How can I reduce my risk?

There is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer.  However, these recommendations may help manage or lower your risk of ovarian cancer.

  • A healthy lifestyle – Avoid all tobacco products and limit your alcohol consumption.
  • Exercise and diet – Maintain a weekly exercise routine and eat a healthy diet.
  • Pregnancy and breastfeeding – Breastfeed for a year or more, if you are able. Studies suggest that women who breastfeed may have a reduced risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Health care provider – Talk to your physician about your health history and other preventive strategies (diagnostic tests, surgery, oral contraceptives, etc.).

For resources and more information about ovarian cancer, visit the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) ovarian cancer website.