About Ovarian Cancer - Signs, Symptoms and Assessing Your Risk

August 2012

Learn more about ovarian cancer, including symptoms, signs and risk assessment.Cancer is a scary term. And for many women, gynecologic cancers can be difficult to think about. But did you know that ovarian cancer is the number one type of gynecologic cancer? Over 21,000 women are diagnosed with it each year in the United States and almost two-thirds do not survive.

That's a really startling statistic for any woman. But, there is good news. Simply knowing the symptoms, assessing your personal risk level and following the recommendations for screening can truly reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer.

So, what are the symptoms?

Ovarian Cancer shares the same symptoms of many common women's health issues. However, when considering these symptoms, the main distinction of ovarian cancer is if you notice new or different symptoms – those that seem atypical for you.

  • Bloating
  • Pain in pelvis and abdomen
  • Indigestion
  • Constipation
  • Urinary urgency
  • Swelling
  • Fatigue
  • Menstrual irregularities
  • Pain with intercourse
  • Non-specific symptoms, such as menstrual pain at any given time

How can you assess your risk?

There are several factors to consider when assessing your personal risk of ovarian cancer. It is important to note that there is no way to guarantee if you will or will not develop this type of cancer. While it is very helpful to be aware of the different risk factors, speaking with your doctor about them is the best way to assess your personal risk. Some of the most common risk factors include:

  • Family History
    • 10-15% of women who develop ovarian cancer have a family history of the disease
    • The closer the family relation is to you, the higher the risk
  • Endometriosis
  • Age
    • Women 50-60 and above are more likely to develop ovarian cancer
  • Constant Infertility
  • Hormone Therapy for Postmenopausal women

When should you start screening?

Because current screening methods are often inaccurate and very costly, the recommendation for the general population is continue having routine annual exams. However, for women with a family history of the disease, we do recommend screening specifically for ovarian cancer.

While it's necessary to be aware of risk factors and symptoms, it is important to check with your doctor before making any assumptions. At Beaver Dam Women's Health, we offer a variety of ovarian cancer related care options such as routine exams, family history screening, screenings for high-risk women and education.  Call (920) 885-6090 to make an appointment or to simply discuss your personal health and history.

About the Author:
Dr. Ken Ostermann, MD, FACOG

Dr. Ken Ostermann discusses the signs, symptoms and risk factors of Ovarian Cancer

Dr. Ken Ostermann is the founder of Beaver Dam Women’s Health.  After receiving his MD from Hahnemann University in Philadelphia, Dr. Ostermann attended the University of Colorado in Denver for his residency in Obstetrics and Gynecology and the Colorado Gynecology and Continence Center for his fellowship in Urogynecology and Pelvic Reconstructive Surgery. Dr. Ostermann specializes in the full spectrum of obstetrics and gynecology including normal and high-risk obstetrics, routine gynecology and the treatment of such problems as pelvic pain, abnormal bleeding, urinary incontinence and pelvic prolapse. As a skilled surgeon, Dr. Ostermann has over a decade of laparoscopic surgery experience and specializes in a variety of minimally invasive and alternative women’s surgical procedures. It is his passion to help his patients work through their difficult medical issues, whether it’s pelvic prolapse, a leaking bladder or even complications from previous failed surgeries. With Dr. Ostermann, patients can expect a compassionate doctor who will work hard to find the best individualized care for their needs while establishing a calming sense of understanding.

This is a public forum, by which BDWH provides general information to patients and prospective patients. You should not post any personal or identifying information on this Blog. The information that appears on this Blog does not constitute medical advice and is not a substitute for a consultation with a Healthcare Professional.

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