Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is more common than vaginal cancer or vulvar cancer. The American Cancer Society estimates there are nearly 20,000 new cases of ovarian cancer every year. Several types of cancer arise from the cells in the ovary. 

  • The epithelial lining can be abnormal
  • Germ cells located in the ovaries can produce tumors (most often found in young women)
  • The sex cord-stromal cells can have unusual cancerous growth.
  • Abnormal growth of the uterine epithelial cells can produce ovarian cancer, fallopian tube cancer or peritoneal cancer that involves the abdominal cavity. 

The most serious types of epithelial ovarian cancer are seen in Caucasian females and the disease is often found at an advanced state with spread of the cancer already occurring within the patient.  

Know Your Risk

A risk factor is anything that increases your chance of getting a disease such as cancer. In addition to the genetic risk that comes from having a family history of ovarian cancer, postmenopausal women should be aware of the following risk factors:

  • You’ve never had a baby
  • You started your menstrual cycles before age 12 and experienced menopause after age 50.
  • You are unable to become pregnant
  • You have used hormone therapy for the symptoms of menopause

Lower Your Risk

While there are no known ways to prevent the disease, there are several things that can reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

  • Taking birth control pills
  • Having children and breast-feeding
  • Having both tubes tied (tubal ligation) or having a hysterectomy.

In some cases, the cancer may cause early symptoms. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Frequent bleeding
  • Pain in your belly and pelvis
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Urinary problems
  • Increased fatigue
  • Indigestion
  • Back pain
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Constipation
  • Menstrual cycle changes.

It’s important to note that many of these symptoms are not exclusive to ovarian cancer. If you are experiencing these symptoms for more than two or three weeks continuously, contact your doctor for possible examinations.