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Join the Fight Against Ovarian Cancer

Want to learn more about ovarian cancer and spread the word about the importance of screenings? Find all the information and resources you need to raise awareness about ovarian cancer and prevent it.

FAQs: Learn About Ovarian Cancer

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a disease in which, depending on the type and stage, cancerous cells are found inside, near, or on the outer layer of the ovaries. An ovary is one of two small, almond-shaped organs located on each side of the uterus that store eggs and produce female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

In the early stages, ovarian cancer is difficult to detect because it can lay deep within the abdominal cavity.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The symptoms of ovarian cancer may start vague and become more intense over time. These symptoms include:

  • Bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
  • Fatigue
  • Upset stomach or heartburn
  • Back pain
  • Pain during sex
  • The need to urinate urgently or often
  • Constipation or menstrual changes

If symptoms are new and persist for more than two weeks, it is recommended that a woman see her doctor and a gynecologic oncologist before surgery if cancer is suspected.

How can screening help an ovarian cancer prognosis?

Only about 20 percent of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage. When ovarian cancer is found early, about 94 percent of patients live longer than five years after diagnosis.

Although there is no consistently reliable screening test to detect ovarian cancer, the following tests are available:

  • Pelvic Exam: Women age 18 and older should have a mandatory annual vaginal exam. Women aged 35 and older should receive an annual rectovaginal exam (where a physician inserts their fingers in the rectum and vagina simultaneously to feel for abnormal swelling and detect tenderness).
  • Transvaginal Sonography: This ultrasound, performed with a small instrument placed in the vagina, is appropriate for women at high risk for ovarian cancer or those with an abnormal pelvic exam.
  • CA-125 Test: This blood test determines if the level of CA-125, a protein produced by ovarian cancer cells, has increased in the blood of a woman at high risk for ovarian cancer or a woman with an abnormal pelvic examination.

Who is affected by ovarian cancer?

  • In women ages 35-74, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related deaths.
  • An estimated one woman in 78 will develop ovarian cancer during her lifetime.
  • The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer diagnosed this year and that more than 14,240 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.

Who is at risk for ovarian cancer?

All women are at risk of ovarian cancer.

    What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?

    While the presence of one or more risk factors may increase a woman's chance of developing ovarian cancer, it does not necessarily mean that she will get the disease. A woman with one or more risk factors should be extra vigilant in watching for early symptoms. The risk factors of ovarian cancer include:

    • Genetic predisposition
    • Personal or family history of breast, ovarian, or colon cancer
    • Increasing age
    • Infertility

    How can I take action against ovarian cancer?

    • Schedule your Well-Woman Visit or an annual physical with your primary care provider.
    • Partner with local community organizations to encourage people to get proactive about their health.
    • Share your own experiences with your family and friends to encourage them to get involved.

    Get the Word Out

    Anyone can raise awareness about ovarian cancer. Get involved and help us spread the word. Here are a few ideas:

    • Share information on your social media outlets about ovarian cancer.
    • Tweet about ovarian cancer awareness.
    • Host an event or fundraiser in Frederick County so others can be active while learning about local health resources.
    • Share or add infographics to your website or social media profile.
    • Ask doctors and nurses to talk to patients about the signs, symptoms, and risk factors for ovarian cancer.


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