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Know Your Risks for Ovarian Cancer


All women are at risk for ovarian cancer – and it is too often caught too late. When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, there are effective treatments. Here is what you need to know about ovarian cancer, and how you can detect ovarian cancer early.

Detect ovarian cancer early

Ovarian cancer can develop in one or both ovaries. The ovaries are the female reproductive organs on both sides of a woman’s uterus. Many women do not know they have cancer until it spreads beyond the ovary. However, if you detect ovarian cancer at an early stage, you can increase your chance of survival. To detect cancer early, learn about the risk factors, and go for routine gynecological exams.

cervical cancer

Know the risk factors of ovarian cancer

A risk factor is anything that increases your chances of getting a disease. Some common risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

Age is a risk factor you cannot change. As you get older, your chance of developing ovarian cancer increases.

Family history is also a risk factor you cannot change. If you have a relative who was diagnosed with ovarian cancer or breast cancer, your chance of developing ovarian cancer increases.

Cancer history is when you have you have a history of other cancers, including breast cancer, colorectal cancer, or cervical cancer. Having a cancer history increases your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

No pregnancies throughout your lifetime will impact the hormones in your body. Not giving birth may increase your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Other risks, such as having endometriosis (a condition where tissues from the uterus grows somewhere else in the body) or eating diets high in fat, may also increase your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Reduce your risk

There are no known ways to prevent ovarian cancer. However, lower rates of ovarian cancer have been founded in women who:

  • Take birth control pills
  • Give birth
  • Breastfeed after giving birth.
  • Have had their tubes tied (tubal ligation) or their uterus removed (hysterectomy)
  • Have had both ovaries removed.

Know the symptoms of ovarian cancer

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Pain in the area below your stomach and between your hop bones
  • Back Pain
  • Bloating, when the area below your stomach swells or feels full
  • Feeling full quickly while eating
  • Frequent urination

Detect ovarian cancer

While there are not any screening tests available for detecting ovarian cancer, self-awareness is very important. Pay attention to your body, and know what is normal for you. Talk to your doctor about any changes in your body that are not normal. Your doctor may further exam these changes to determine the cause. Be sure to schedule routine GYN checkups with your doctor. This way your doctor will be able to monitor the changes in your body.

Talk your primary care provider and your gynecologist about your risk for ovarian cancer, and what steps you can take to lower your risk. You can make an appointment at our women’s health department by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan or (718) 886-1287 for Queens, or by visiting our women’s health webpage.

Download this in PDF form here.

This post is made possible with funding from the NYC Council.


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Have a Smoke-Free Home


Written by Michelle Chen

We all need clean air to live healthy lives. This includes the air inside your home, not just what you breathe in outside. To protect your and your family’s health, don’t smoke at home. Secondhand smoke, which comes from cigarettes and the air smokers breathe out, is toxic. It has thousands of deadly chemicals, including ones that cause cancer. Non-smokers who live with secondhand smoke are more likely to get sick or die from serious illness such as cancer and heart disease. Secondhand smoke is especially bad for children. At the Health Center, we see kids with family members who smoke that come in with asthma and ear infections.

Secondhand smoke is a special problem in big cities like New York, where many people live in apartments. Much of the air inside a building is shared. Smoke in one unit can move through a whole building and into other units, even if they are far apart. Smoke can get trapped almost everywhere, including walls, floors, doors, and furniture. It can also stay on your clothes and hair. No fan, room spray, or open window can get rid of lingering smoke. Just because you can’t see it or smell it doesn’t mean it’s not there!

Make your whole home smoke-free (not just a few rooms). Moving to another room or opening a window does NOT protect your loved ones from the smoke. Don’t just stop at your home – make your car smoke-free, too. Here are some tips:

  • Get rid of ashtrays, lighters, and matches.
  • Tell your friends and family that you don’t allow smoking in your home.
  • Have gum or fruit as an alternative to smoking.
  • Be polite but firm. If people must smoke, insist that they do it outside.

We know quitting can be hard, but your health improves the moment you stop. Your loved ones will be thankful for it, too. Are you ready to take the next steps, but don’t know where to begin? Check out our posts on tips and why you should quit.

At the Health Center, we can help patients quit or cut back on smoking:

You can also get free patches and help from:

This post is made possible with funding from the RCHN Community Health Foundation and adapted from NYCDOHMH’s Health Bulletin.

Michelle Chen is a Health Educator at the Charles B. Wang Community Health Center. She has a B.A. in Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies from Barnard College. She is interested in the intersection of public health and Asian American activism.

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Encouraging Asian American Mothers to Breastfeed


Breastfeeding workshop for expecting mothers in the community.

In New York City, Asian and Pacific Islanders are least likely to breastfeed exclusively within the first 5 days after birth. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for about 6 months, followed by continued breastfeeding for 1 year or longer as mutually desired by mother and infant. Many newborns are missing the protection afforded by their mothers’ breast milk as well as the bonding experience during breastfeeding.  Despite the countless health benefits for both mother and baby during breastfeeding, Asian American mothers face numerous barriers preventing them from breastfeeding, including  misinformation about the benefits of breastfeeding, difficulties in breastfeeding when mothers returning  to work, and lack of social support.

We have found that many mothers think that giving their babies formula is just as good as breastfeeding.  Breastfeeding has the potential to improve mothers and baby’s health, and timely intervention and education from health care providers and hospital staffs are important for breastfeeding moms to assure early initiation and successful breastfeeding. A woman’s choice to substitute breast milk is often influenced by misconceptions and a lack of social support.


Breastfeeding workshop conducted by Senior Health Educator Yajie Zhu.

To combat these barriers, we have enhanced our efforts to improve breastfeeding rates and increase awareness regarding the benefits of breastfeeding in the Asian American community.

We are committed to supporting breastfeeding by providing culturally competent and linguistically sensitive resources and services. With generous funding provided by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, we are implementing a breastfeeding initiative to improve breastfeeding rates within the Health Center and increase awareness of breastfeeding and its benefits in the Chinese American population in the New York metropolitan area.

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Chief Development Officer Regina Lee, Chief of OB/GYN Dr. Allan Ho, Senior Health Educator Yajie Zhu and Chief of Pediatrics, Loretta Au talking to the press about breastfeeding initiatives. 

Our health educators and case managers provide one-on-one breastfeeding counseling with expecting mothers, hospital visits after their deliveries and offer breastfeeding management and support at multiple follow-ups. We have held numerous breastfeeding workshops at our Health Center for mothers-to-be in the community.

If you are or know an expecting mother, learn more about our OB services by calling (212) 966-0228 for Manhattan and (718) 886-1287 for Queens. To learn more about breastfeeding, download this Breastfeeding – Give Your Baby the Best in English or Breastfeeding – Give You Child the Best in Chinese.