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Ovarian Cancer

A woman's risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. Her lifetime chance of dying from ovarian cancer is about 1 in 108.

What is Ovarian Cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a group of diseases that originates in the ovaries, or in the related areas of the fallopian tubes and the peritoneum. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs for reproduction. Women have two fallopian tubes that are a pair of long, slender tubes on each side of the uterus. Eggs pass from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The peritoneum is the tissue lining that covers organs in the abdomen.

What are the early warning signs of ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer may cause several signs and symptoms. Women are more likely to have symptoms if the disease has spread, but even early-stage ovarian cancer can cause them. The most common symptoms include:

  • Bloating

  • Pelvic or abdominal (belly) pain

  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly

  • Urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)

These symptoms are also commonly caused by benign (non-cancerous) diseases and by cancers of other organs. When they are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and a change from normal − for example, they occur more often or are more severe. These symptoms are more likely to be caused by other conditions, and most of them occur just about as often in women who don’t have ovarian cancer. But if you have these symptoms more than 12 times a month, see your doctor so the problem can be found and treated if necessary.

Others symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • Fatigue (extreme tiredness)

  • Upset stomach

  • Back pain

  • Pain during sex

  • Constipation

  • Changes in a woman's period, such as heavier bleeding than normal or irregular bleeding

  • Abdominal (belly) swelling with weight loss

-Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer (American Cancer Society)

How much do you know about gynecological cancers? Take the CDC's quiz to find out.

Ovarian Cancer Quick Facts

  • Ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancers are diseases in which malignant (cancer) cells form in the ovaries, fallopian tubes, or peritoneum.

  • In the United States, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women.

  • Different factors increase or decrease the risk of getting ovarian, fallopian tube, and primary peritoneal cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Did You Know Video

Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors

There are various risk factors associated with ovarian cancer. It mostly affects postmenopausal women, where increasing age is associated with an increased incidence, advanced stage of this disease, and lower reported survival rates. Parity poses a protective role according to a few case-control studies with higher age at childbirth linked to a decreased risk of ovarian cancer. The strongest risk factor of ovarian cancer is a positive family history of breast or ovarian cancer, where a personal history of breast cancer also augments the risk. Several studies have shown an increased risk of smoking, especially the risk of mucinous epithelial tumors.

Ovarian Cancer Resources:

Ovarian Cancer (Medscape)

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