Nearly 22,000 new cases of ovarian cancer are diagnosed every year, and there is no better time than now to discuss the risks and learn more about this type of cancer.
Who’s at Risk?
Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other type of female reproductive cancer, and is the fifth most common cancer among women. To see how these statistics relate to you, learn more about the factors that put you at risk for developing ovarian cancer by reading below:
- Personal or family history of breast or ovarian cancer
- Women who take estrogen for an extended period of time (more than 5 years)
- Mature age
What may be surprising is that the earlier in life a woman had children and the more children she has, the lower her risk of developing ovarian cancer. Further, taking birth control pills also decreases a woman’s risk of developing ovarian cancer.
I Think I May Have Ovarian Cancer
There are many warning signs that coincide with developing ovarian cancer. Some of the symptoms typically experienced with this type of cancer include a swollen abdomen, chronic back pain that worsens over time, extreme weight gain or loss, vaginal bleeding, digestive problems, abnormal menstrual cycles and excessive bloating. Other signs, although less common, include excessive hair growth and increased urinary urgency or frequency. If you experience one or more of these symptoms, call your physician and make an appointment.
What Happens Now?
Each stage of ovarian cancer uses surgery as treatment. Surgery will usually involve a hysterectomy, which is the removal of the uterus. The fallopian tubes and one or both ovaries may also need to be surgically removed depending on how advanced the cancer is. Some layers and tissue in your abdomen may also need to be surgically removed, but again, it depends on the stage of cancer. In most cases, chemotherapy will be used to prevent the cancer from returning.
Be certain to schedule regular physical exams and Pap smears with your physician. The preventative approach, especially for those with a family history of ovarian cancer, is always the most effective. As September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness month, now would be the perfect time to schedule your annual examination.