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Ovarian Cancer forms in the tissues of the ovaries. In the United States, more women die of ovarian cancer each year than of cervical and endometrial cancers combined. Ovarian cancer occurs more often in white females than African American; however, African American women die at a higher rate. Ovarian cancer accounts for about three percent of all cancers among women. Arkansas averages approximately 188 ovarian cancer cases per year.
The following factors are thought to increase risk for the disease:
- Age - as women get older, the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases.
- Family history - a woman whose mother or sister has had ovarian cancer has a higher than average risk of developing the disease.
- Hormone replacement therapy/hormone therapy (in postmenopausal women)
- Fertility drug use
- Other risk factors have been suggested but the exact relationship remains unclear.
Although many of the risk factors cannot be avoided, studies suggest use of birth control pills, childbearing and breast-feeding, undergoing tubal ligation (sterilization) or hysterectomy (removal of ovaries and/or uterus) decrease the risk for ovarian cancer. The most crucial need for controlling ovarian cancer is effective prevention or early detection in high-risk women. However, because of the low incidence rate in the U.S., the value of screening all women is low.
The most common symptoms include:
- pelvic or abdominal pain
- trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- urinary symptoms such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go often)
These symptoms are also common to other diseases. When they are caused by ovarian cancer, they tend to be persistent and represent a change from normal — for example, they occur more often or are more severe. If you have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks, see your doctor.
Learn more about Ovarian Cancer
• The Arkansas Ovarian Coalition
• The National Cancer Institute
• National Ovarian Cancer Coalition
• Ovarian Cancer National Alliance
• American Cancer Society
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: Does ovarian cancer have signs and symptoms in its early stages?
Answer: The most common symptoms reported include: stomach bloating or discomfort, increased abdominal size or clothes that fit tighter around your waist, increased or urgent need to urinate and pelvic pain. Additional signs and symptoms are: persistent gas, indigestion or nausea, unexplained changes in bowel habits, unexplained weight loss or gain, loss of appetite, feeling full quickly during or after a meal and pain during sexual intercourse, a persistent lack of energy, low back pain or shortness of breath.
Q: Does the use of talc (talcum powder) as a feminine powder increases the risk of ovarian cancer?
Answer: Studies have found no overall risk of ovarian cancer from talc use.
Q: Is there any way to prevent ovarian cancer?
Answer: Currently there is no way of preventing ovarian cancer.