How to Detect Ovarian Cancer and Reduce Your Risk
An estimated 1 in 78 women will develop ovarian cancer at some point in her life.
Fortunately, when diagnosed early, there is a 5-year survival rate of more than 90 percent.
However, the challenge in detecting ovarian cancer is that there are no simple and reliable screening methods for women who do not show any symptoms. Early detection is rare.
Therefore, the best way to reduce your risk is to know the signs of ovarian cancer, adopt lifestyle changes to reduce your risk, and work closely with your physician or OBGYN.
“At Chapel Hill OBGYN, we encourage our patients, and the women throughout our community, to review the symptoms listed here,” said Dr. Anne Martinelli. “If you exhibit any of these, you should contact us early so we can determine the cause and provide the type of treatment needed. The key is to be familiar with your body and your regular menstrual cycle so you can easily detect when something is not normal.”
What are the signs of ovarian cancer?
Ovarian cancer can cause:
- Pelvic pressure or pain
- Back or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating
- Urgent urination
Is there a screening for ovarian cancer?
There is no simple way to screen for ovarian cancer in women who do not show any signs or symptoms.
If you do show the signs then we can perform a transvaginal ultrasound, a CA-125 blood test or a rectovaginal pelvic exam that can aid us in diagnosis.
However, these forms of evaluation are limited in their effectiveness and many times will only detect advanced disease.
Taking birth control pills for more than 5 years consecutively can help reduce your risk of ovarian cancer.
What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?
As you age, you are more likely to develop ovarian cancer, which is rare in women who are less than 40 years old. (American Cancer Society).
Half of ovarian cancers are discovered in women who are 63 and older.
Being obese or overweight
It’s no secret that being overweight can place you at a higher risk of many cancers.
It can also have an effect on the cancer survival rate.
Having children later in life
The research is mixed on how this affects your risk. In some cases, in vitro fertilization (IVF) is shown to increase the chances of getting ovarian cancer, but other studies haven’t established a clear connection.
If you’re considering infertility treatment, please contact us so we can discuss the potential benefits and risks. We have convenient locations in Chapel Hill and in our Durham obgyn near Southpoint.
A family history of ovarian cancer
Having breast cancer associated with the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes.
These are responsible for the majority of inherited ovarian cancers.
What is the treatment for ovarian cancer?
Surgery is the primary treatment for ovarian cancer, although its scope depends upon the stage of the cancer and how much it has progressed.
Sometimes this involves a hysterectomy where the ovaries are removed.
Chapel Hill OBGYN. The Best Care. The Best Providers. The Best for You.
Women in all phases of their lives have trusted us with their care for more than 40 years.
We consider that a sacred trust. That’s why we always strive to provide the world-class care of larger research-based institutions with the compassionate, individualized care that you would get from a smaller practice.
If you’ve been experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned in this article, contact us for an appointment where we can discuss your potential risk factors for ovarian cancer.
For more than 40 years, Chapel Hill OBGYN has served women in the Triangle area, sharing the joy of little miracles and supporting them during challenges. Our board-certified physicians and certified nurse midwives bring together the personal experience and convenience of a private practice with the state-of-the-art resources found at larger organizations. To schedule an appointment, please contact us for more information.