Symptoms & Risks

One in 70 women in the United States is diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer, knowing the symptoms and your personal risk factors can help you save your life!

Risk Factors

Age: Your risk increases with your age, most women with Ovarian Cancer are diagnosed over the age of 55.

Family History: Your risk is higher if you have a close blood relative who has had breast cancer before the age of 50 or Ovarian Cancer at any age.

Personal History: Women who have had cancer of the breast, uterus, colon or rectum have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Reproductive History: If you have never had children or have a history of difficulty getting pregnant, you are at increased risk.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: If you have taken Hormone Replacement Therapy, you may be at higher risk. However, if you have taken oral contraceptives, your risk is lower.

Ethnicity: White women from European and North America have a higher risk, as do Jewish women of Eastern European (Ashkenazi) descent.

Endometriosis: If you have had a history of endometriosis, you are at higher risk of ovarian cancer.

Genetic Testing: Genetic testing indicating you have BRCA 1 or 2, or Lynch Syndrome also known as HNPCC puts you at a much higher risk for ovarian cancer.

Having a risk factor for ovarian cancer does not necessarily mean that a woman will get Ovarian Cancer. We encourage women with risk factors to talk to their doctor.

In 2007 several leading cancer research organizations released a consensus statement that defined the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Until this time it was thought that Ovarian Cancer had no symptoms, because of this and the deadly nature of this disease Ovarian Cancer was falsely dubbed ‘The Silent Killer’.  Many women exclaim upon seeing the symptoms ‘but I have these symptoms every month’, and they are right, many of these symptoms are normal for most women, and they do not have ovarian cancer.  The key to knowing when the symptoms may be Ovarian Cancer is that they are new to you, they are not normal for you, they represent a change and they occur almost daily for two to three weeks.

Symptoms

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary Urgency or frequency

Other commonly reported symptoms include;

  • Fatigue
  • Indigestion, ie: (excessive gas (belching, burping or flatulence), nausea with or w/out vomiting, acidic taste in mouth, gurgling, rumbling, or growling stomach discomfort, decreased appetite, heart burn, upset stomach) 
  • Back Pain
  • Pain during sex
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual irregularities

If you experience any of these symptoms, that are not normal for you, almost daily for 2 or more weeks, talk to your gynecologist. If your doctor suspects Ovarian Cancer, they will order some tests, including a CA125 blood test and a transvaginal ultrasound. Once Ovarian Cancer is suspected, it is important to see a Gynecological Oncologist (specialists at diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer). Studies have shown improved outcomes for women who are treated by Gynecological Oncologists compared to those who are cared for by general gynecologist or doctors. 

The Women’s Cancer Foundation provides an updated list of Gynecologic Oncologists in the United States. http://www.wcn.org/findadoctor/

For our Canadian friends, the Society of Gynecologic Oncology provides a list of specialists at http://www.g-o-c.org/en/resources/members-directory.aspx?zAction=2&MemberID=&ProfPractice=5&keyword=&x=25&y=14

Disclaimer:  The information on this website is designed to aid women in making decisions about appropriate gynecologic care and does not substitute for evaluations with qualified medical professionals familiar with you.

 

Support & Networking
Networking and Support Groups can help women with Ovarian Cancer cope better with their illness, by providing knowledge of treatment and side-effects, and emotional support from others with the same diagnosis. Read more...
Our Stories

Storytelling is a power and subtle tool. Having stories about women who have had Ovarian Cancer and who are living with Ovarian Cancer is one of our most effective ways to communicate to you the hope, understanding and inspiration of our mission. If you would like to share your story, your words will help us educate, inspire, give hope, educate and make a difference, please contact us.