About Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive tract. The American Cancer Society estimates that over 22,000 new cases and 13,000 deaths occurred in 2010.

About 10-13% of ovarian cancer cases can be linked to hereditary causes. BRCA1 and BRCA2 gene mutations are found in premenopausal women with breast cancer, but may also be seen in those patients with pancreatic cancer. Women carrying BRCA mutations have a 10-60% chance of developing ovarian cancer, depending on which mutation they carry. Another genetic syndrome, HNPCC is a red flag for cancers of the ovary, colon, uterus, stomach and small bowel. Any woman having a personal history of these cancers, or who has more than one immediate family member with the disease should talk with her doctor about being tested for these genes.

Women should be aware of symptoms that may reflect ovarian cancer such as bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency). These symptoms can also be caused by non-cancerous conditions. If you have any of these symptoms, you should see your health care provider or gynecologist to determine the cause.