While ovarian cancer is only the ninth most common cancer in women, it is the leading cause of death for cancers of the female reproductive system.
The ovaries are responsible for releasing eggs during ovulation and producing female hormones. Over time, cancerous cells can develop on ovarian tissue.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Women with ovarian cancer may only have mild symptoms until the cancer is in advanced stage. Women should contact their gynecologist at the first sign of any of the following:
- Vaginal Bleeding or abnormal discharge
- Pelvic / abdominal pain
- Back pain
- Abdominal bloating
- Frequent urination or diarrhea
Important Ovarian Cancer Statistics
Statistics can tell a lot about the danger certain cancers can pose. Ovarian cancer, while fairly rare, has the potential to be deadly.
- Approximately 22,280 women in the US will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year.
- An estimated 14,420 deaths occur in the US from ovarian cancer each year.
5 Year Survival Rate
- Women under 65 with ovarian cancer: 58 percent
- Women over 65 with ovarian cancer: 28 percent
- If the cancer has not spread: 73 percent
- If the cancer has spread to a distant part of the body: 28 percent
These statistics show that it is vital for women to catch this form of cancer in its early stages.
What is the Best Way to Detect Ovarian Cancer Early?
The most effective way to detect ovarian cancer in its early stages is through a yearly women’s health exam. These annual visits provide women an opportunity to discuss any symptoms they feel which could necessitate further investigation. In addition, a doctor will perform a pelvic exam to feel the ovaries and to detect any possible abnormalities. It should be noted, however, that early-stage ovarian cancer may be difficult for the physician to feel.
If a patient is exhibiting warning signs of ovarian cancer, the following tests may be performed:
Transvaginal Sonography: an ultrasound that is performed with a small instrument that is inserted into the vagina. This will allow the physician to identify any abnormal growths on or around the ovaries.
CA-125 Test: a blood test that measures the levels of CA-125, a protein that is produced by cancerous ovarian cells. This test is not always the most accurate indicator of ovarian cancer because other conditions could cause elevated CA-125 levels.
If you are feeling any of the symptoms listed above or need to schedule your annual visit, please make an appointment by calling (415) 426-7859