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