About Ovarian Cancer: Symptoms

Ovarian cancer was once thought to be a silent disease because the medical profession had not identified symptoms as occurring in early-stage disease. But recently, researchers have gathered a list of symptoms that, if occurring daily for more than two weeks, should be noted and reported to a doctor—preferably a gynecologist. 

These symptoms include:

• Bloating
• Pelvic or abdominal pain
• Difficulty eating, feeling full quickly, or indigestion
• Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)

Less common symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

• Fatigue
• Back pain
• Menstrual irregularities
• Constipation
• Pain with intercourse

Source: Women’s Cancer Network of the Gynecologic Cancer Foundation (www.wcn.org)

About Ovarian Cancer: Risks

Every woman is at risk for ovarian cancer.  One woman in 78 will develop ovarian cancer in her lifetime.

Risk factors are any things that can positively or negatively affect the chances of a woman developing ovarian cancer. Having one or more risk factors does not guarantee that you’ll develop ovarian cancer, but it’s important to note changes in your body.

Some of the risk factors for ovarian cancer include:

Age: The risk of ovarian cancer grows with age. Most ovarian cancers develop after menopause; half of all ovarian cancers occur in women after the age of 63. Nearly 5 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are between the ages of 18 and 35.

Family/personal history: The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases if your mother, sister, or daughters have had (or currently have) ovarian cancer. Risk also increases if you have had breast cancer.

Women of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage: These women are genetically predisposed to ovarian cancer.

Diet: A low-fat diet can help lower the risk of ovarian cancer. The American Cancer Society suggests a healthy, well-rounded diet, based mostly on plant foods and whole grains.

Obesity: Women whose body mass index (BMI) is more than 30 have a higher chance of developing ovarian cancer. For more information on BMI, click here.

Reproductive history and surgery: The risk of ovarian cancer decreases with each child a woman births. Oral contraceptives and gynecologic surgeries, such as tubal ligation and hysterectomy, also lower the risk of ovarian cancer.

Source: American Cancer Society (www.cancer.org)