Ovarian cancer only accounts for about three percent of cancers in women, however it is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death, and it is the most lethal of gynecologic cancers.Ovarian cancer only accounts for about three percent of cancers in women, however it is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death, and it is the most lethal of gynecologic cancers.
The American Cancer Society estimates that there will be over 22,280 new cases diagnosed –and more than 14,240 women will die from ovarian cancer this year. If caught early, the 5-year survival rate is over 90%. Unfortunately, only about 20% of cases are found early (stage I or II). When ovarian cancer is detected in stage III or higher, the survival rate can plummet to less than 30%. There are several types of ovarian cancer and each woman diagnosed with ovarian cancer has a different profile, making it impossible to provide a general prognosis.
Ovarian cancer can be very difficult to detect, especially, in the early stages. When persistent, the following symptoms may be indicative of ovarian cancer: • Pelvic or abdominal pain • Bloating • Trouble eating or feeling full quickly • Feeling the need to urinate urgently or often • Upset stomach or heartburn • Fatigue • Back pain • Pain during sex • Constipation or menstrual changesAgain – persistence is something to be aware of. When symptoms do not resolve with normal interventions (like laxatives, diet, exercise) it is important to talk with your healthcare provider.
Unfortunately there is no gold standard screening test to detect ovarian cancer, but all women (over 18) should have an annual pelvic exam, during which your provider can feel for an enlarged ovary. Please note that a PAP test detects cervical cancer but does not detect ovarian cancer. If there is reason to suspect you have ovarian cancer based on symptoms or a physical exam, your provider may order some imaging or blood tests to check further.
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