Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer death among American women,
but new treatments are available and working well. What was once a death sentence
is now often pardoned: when diagnosed early, the five year survival rate has
passed 90%. Still, ovarian cancer will affect one in 55 women in her lifetime,
usually in women over age 50.
Women with a family history of ovarian cancers have a higher risk of getting
this disease as do women with certain types of breast cancer. The good news
is that birth control pill use for more than 5 years has been shown to reduce
ovarian cancer risk by 45-60%.
Ovarian cancer is called a silent killer, but it actually whispers its symptoms,
so listen carefully if you hear them. Nine out of 10 women with ovarian cancer
have symptoms such as abdominal swelling; indigestion, gas or bloating; chronic
stomach pain; pelvic pressure or pain; persistent or worsening changes in bowel
or bladder habits; abnormal vaginal bleeding; unexplained weight loss; fatigue;
pain with intercourse; or shortness of breath.
The best way to identify ovarian cancer is through an abnormality felt on a
routine pelvic exam. . Which means the best preventive measure women can take
is to have their annual gynecologic exam.
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Created: 1/19/2001  - Donnica Moore, M.D.