Health Department Notes
Ovarian cancer. Get the facts. Recognize the signs. Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly of women’s cancers. It is a disease in which malignant or cancerous cells are found in the ovaries. An ovary is one of two small, almond-shaped organs located on each side of the uterus that store eggs or germ cells and produce female hormones estrogen and progesterone. This cancer typically occurs in women in their 50s and 60s with the median age being 63. Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a genetic history that may include carrying the BRCA mutation gene and having a strong family history of ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, many women don’t seek help until the disease has begun to spread, but if detected at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 93 percent. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with other ailments. Symptoms may include: • Bloating • Pelvic or Abdominal pain • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly • Urinary urgency or frequency Other symptoms may include: • Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea • Extreme fatigue • Shortness of breath • Backaches • Weight Gain Risk Factors While the presence of one or more risk factors may increase a woman’s chance of getting ovarian cancer, it does not necessarily mean she will get the disease. A woman with one or more risk factors should be extra vigilant in watching for early symptoms. Risk factors include: • Genetic predisposition • Personal or family history of breast, ovarian, colon or rectum cancer • Increasing age. The disease affects all ages, but most women are 55+ when diagnosed • Never pregnant • Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy • Obesity Facts • All women are at risk • Symptoms exist - they can be vague, but increase over time • Early detection increases survival rate • A Pap test does not detect ovarian cancer Eating right, being active and maintaining a healthy weight are important ways to reduce your risk of cancer as well as other diseases.