Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that affects the female reproductive system. It occurs when abnormal cells on the surface of the ovary grow uncontrollably. It is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth most common cause of cancer death among women in the United States.

Risk Factors

Ovarian cancer risk factors include:

  • Age — The risk of ovarian cancer increases after age 55.
  • Family History of Ovarian Cancer — Women with a family history of ovarian cancer have an increased risk.
  • Genetic Mutations — Mutations in the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes increase a woman's risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Hormone Therapy — Women who use hormone replacement therapy have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Nulliparity — Women who have not had any pregnancies have an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Ovulation — Women who ovulate more often have an increased risk.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer include:

  • Abdominal pain or pressure
  • Unexplained weight gain or weight loss
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Ovarian enlargement
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding
  • Pelvic pain
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Fatigue
  • Bloating
  • Nausea

Diagnosis and Treatment

If ovarian cancer is suspected, a doctor may order a number of tests to diagnose the disease, including a pelvic examination, blood tests, imaging tests, and a biopsy of the ovarian tissue. Treatment for ovarian cancer depends on the stage of the cancer, the patient’s age, and overall health. Treatment options may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, and/or targeted therapy.