Ovarian Cancer: What You Should Know

According to the American Cancer Society, more than 21,000 women in the United States will be diagnosed with the disease this year.  Knowing your risk factors and learning the symptoms can help diagnose it in the early stages, leading to easier treatment. 

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer include:

*Abdominal pain
*Frequent urges to urinate
*Unusual feelings of fullness 
*Fatigue or extreme tiredness 
*Upset stomach
*Back pain
*Pain during sex 
*Abdominal swelling with weight loss 
*Changes in a woman’s period, such as irregular bleeding or heavier than normal bleeding

Risk factors for ovarian cancer may mean that you have a higher chance of developing the disease but are in no way a guarantee that you will.  Knowing this information is powerful in your arsenal to stay healthy.  Regular diagnostic testing and taking preventative measures will help, especially in discovering it in the early stages.  

Risk factors for ovarian cancer include:
*Age:  With almost half of the occurrences of ovarian cancer in women over the age of 60, we know that if you’ve already experienced menopause, you’re more likely to be at risk. 

*Weight: Women with a body mass index over 30 or are obese have a higher risk of developing the disease.

*Family history of cancer:  If any relatives have been diagnosed with breast, colorectal or ovarian cancer, you may have an elevated risk.  Mutations of certain genes may be heritable and be the cause of certain cancers.  If you’ve been diagnosed with breast cancer, your risk may be slightly higher, as well. 

*Hormone Therapy:  If you’ve used estrogens for five to ten years, following menopause, especially without progesterone, there is a link to a higher risk for the disease.  

*Childbirth Age:  If you gave birth after 35, there are links to a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. 

*Term Completion of Pregnancy:  Women who haven’t had a full-term pregnancy have a higher risk of ovarian cancer. 

The good news is that when ovarian cancer is diagnosed early, it tends to be highly treatable.  Although there are no reliable screening tests at this moment for ovarian cancer, regular pelvic exams and health checkups are helpful in detecting the disease early.  Be sure to discuss any symptoms with your doctor.  When was your last pelvic exam? If you know that you’re overdue for a checkup or exam, make an appointment today to come in for one. 
If you’re overdue for a pelvic examination, call us today at (631) 587-2500 to schedule an appointment.  Let’s put your health first. 

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