Authored by Revere Health

Ovarian Cancer FAQs

September 14, 2018 | OB/GYN

In 2018, the American Cancer Society estimates that over 14,000 women will die from ovarian cancer and over 22,000 will be given an ovarian cancer diagnosis. For cancer deaths, ovarian cancer ranks fifth among women and causes more deaths than any cancer that affects the reproductive system. Fortunately, the rate of ovarian cancer has been falling over the last two decades, and women face a 1 in 78 chance of getting ovarian cancer and a 1 in 108 chance of dying from it.

Because it is hard to detect, ovarian cancer is often difficult to catch early, and early intervention is key to treating all types of cancer. In most cases, doctors will recommend chemotherapy and surgery for treatment.

What Are the Risk Factors Associated With Ovarian Cancer?

As with most types of cancer, there are some things that may predispose a woman to getting ovarian cancer—ovaries are the small organs on both sides of the uterus that produce estrogen, progesterone and eggs:

  • Family history: ovarian cancer risk increases in those who have two or more close relatives who have had the condition
  • Menstruation start and end dates: those who start menopause late or menstruation early are at an increased risk
  • Estrogen hormone replacement therapy: large doses over long treatment periods increase a woman’s risk
  • Old age: this type of cancer is most commonly detected in women between 50 and 60
  • Inherited gene mutations: genes you inherit from your parents may cause ovarian cancer, although this accounts for a small percentage of diagnoses
  • Obesity and weight: obesity is linked to several types of cancers, particularly in those with a BMI of at least 30
  • Fertility treatments: low malignant potential or borderline tumors may be caused by in vitro fertilization
  • Previous cancer: those who have had breast cancer are at a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer

What are the Signs and Symptoms to Watch For?

If you have any of the following symptoms or signs of ovarian cancer, you should talk to your doctor:

  • Weight loss
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation or other changes in bowel habits
  • Pelvic area discomfort
  • Abdominal swelling or bloating
  • The feeling of being full quickly when you are eating

If you have a history of cancer or you have close family members who have had cancer, you should take a proactive approach by discussing your situation with your doctor. You may be referred to a genetic counselor or start screening early to catch any problems.

How Do You Screen for Ovarian Cancer?

If you see a doctor with symptoms of ovarian cancer, you may undergo a physical exam, consult with a specialist, or have imaging tests such as an ultrasound, computed tomography (CT) scan, X-ray, MRI or positron emission tomography (PET) scan. Your doctor may also perform a colonoscopy, biopsy or laparoscopy along with blood tests to determine if you have cancer or not.

If you are concerned about your risk of developing ovarian cancer or want to discuss your reproductive health with a professional, we encourage you to contact your doctor. Many cancers can be treated successfully if they are detected early.

The obstetricians/gynecologists, nurse practitioners and certified nurse midwives at Revere Health OB/GYN provide a full range of healthcare services to women throughout all stages of their lives including; puberty, child-bearing years, menopause, and beyond.



“Ovarian Cancer.” American Cancer Society.

“Ovarian Cancer.” Mayo Clinic.

The Live Better Team


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.