Ovarian cancer begins in the ovaries, which are located on each side of the uterus.
Ovarian cancer is the second most common type of gynecologic cancer in the United States. It affects one to two of every 100 women. There are more than 30 different types of ovarian cancer, and each type is classified based on the cells that are growing in the ovary.
Find a Gynecologic Oncologist
Let us connect you with a specialist near you.
Can you answer yes to any of these questions:
- Do you have a family history of ovarian or breast cancer?
- Do you have a personal history of breast cancer prior to age 40?
- Do you have a personal history of breast cancer diagnosed prior to age 50 as well as one or more close relatives diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer at any age?
- Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and have a personal history of breast cancer prior to age 50?
- Are you of Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and have a first- or second-degree relative diagnosed with breast cancer prior to age 50, or with ovarian cancer at any age?
- Do you have a history of infertility and/or use of assisted reproductive therapies such as in vitro fertilization (IVF)?
- Do you have a history of endometriosis (a condition in which tissue from the lining of the uterus grows outside of the uterus)?
- Do you have a history of hormone replacement use for the management of symptoms related to menopause?
If I have some of these risk factors will I get ovarian cancer?
Remember, having one or more of these risk factors does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. However, if you have one or more risk factors, you should schedule regular visits with your doctor and communicate any symptoms you might be experiencing. In 2016 the American Cancer Society estimates that there will be 22,280 new cases of ovarian cancer and 14,240 women will lose their fight against the disease.
Ovarian cancer rarely has noticeable symptoms when it is in its earliest stages. As the cancer progresses, subtle symptoms begin to appear, but they still may not be noticed right away, or they may be blamed on other common conditions, such as constipation or an irritable bowel.
If you do have symptoms, they may include:
- Abdominal bloating or swelling
- Pain in the abdomen or pelvis
- Difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly
- Lack of appetite
- Feeling an urgent need to urinate
- Needing to urinate frequently
- Change in bowel habits (constipation or diarrhea)
- Change in menstrual periods
- Vaginal bleeding between periods
- Back pain
- Weight gain or loss
Since other conditions can cause these symptoms as well, it is important to see your doctor if you experience any of these symptoms.