Ovarian Cancer: The Risks and Symptoms

It's Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, so get the facts about this disease.

Ovarian cancer is a difficult cancer to detect. Being aware of your risks can help keep you on alert for symptoms. When detected early, cancer is more easily treatable. According to WomensHealth.org, about 1 in every 72 women in the United States will develop ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, many women experience no symptoms or very mild symptoms until ovarian cancer has reached an advanced stage. Ask your doctor if you’re a candidate for genetic testing that can help you assess your cancer risk.

Do What You Can
Many risk factors for ovarian cancer are unavoidable, particularly if you have a genetic risk. However, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight, exercise frequently and modify your diet. Healthy living benefits you in many ways, including lowering your risk for many forms of cancer, as well as heart disease. Be aware of your specific risk factors, quit smoking, and visit your doctor regularly. Your risk increases as you age, so talk to your doctor about how often you should visit and what symptoms you should look out for.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer rarely has obvious symptoms. Because it is so hard to detect, many women don’t realize they have it until they’re very sick. If you have high risk factors, this may help you and your doctor know when and how to screen for cancer. Ovarian cancer symptoms are associated with many other diseases and illnesses, making them harder to pin down. They include:

  • Pelvic pain
  • Low back pain
  • Low energy
  • Appetite issues
  • Bowel issues
  • Frequent urination
  • Chronic gas, nausea or abdominal pressure

For more information about ovarian cancer, please visit the Health Library at St. Petersburg General Hospital. If you're concerned about risk factors or symptoms and need a doctor, please call our free Consult-A-Nurse service at 1-888-741-5122.

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