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Understanding Ovarian Cancer

By September 16, 2019 No Comments

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Understanding Ovarian Cancer

Impacting tens of thousands of American women every year, ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in women, according to the American Cancer Society. But because it has few obvious symptoms, ovarian cancer is often not detected until later stages, when it is harder to treat.

While researchers are still working to find screening tests that detect the disease, knowing your risk factors and seeing your doctor annually are the best steps you can take today. The following risk factors increase your likelihood for developing the disease:

  • extended use of hormonal contraception
  • family history of the disease and other cancers, such as breast and colon cancer
  • hysterectomy
  • increased age
  • obesity

Talk with your healthcare provider about your risk factors, and discuss symptoms that may indicate the presence of the disease, such as:

  • abdominal swelling
  • fatigue
  • frequent urination
  • irregularity
  • unusual menstrual cycles

While there is currently no way to prevent ovarian cancer, you can take steps to reduce your risk by having a healthy lifestyle, which includes managing your weight through diet and exercise, quitting smoking, and visiting your doctor regularly.

The Power of Testing

After watching her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, die from ovarian cancer at age 56, actress Angelina Jolie knew her risk for developing the condition was elevated. So she chose to take action by having genetic tests and life-altering surgeries to remove her ovaries and her breasts.

Jolie’s decision was critical in raising awareness about the importance of blood tests to identify gene mutations and surgical procedures that may be performed proactively to help prevent reproductive cancers in women.

But blood tests are not the only line of defense available to women. Thanks to medical technologies, doctors can identify dangerous tumors by utilizing tools such as computed tomography scans, magnetic resonance imaging, positron emission tomography scans and ultrasounds.

Talk with your healthcare provider about recommended tests and the costs and benefits of each.

Fast fact: Just as pink ribbons symbolize breast cancer awareness, teal ribbons stand for ovarian cancer awareness.