Get the Facts and Recognize the Signs of Ovarian Cancer

By Griffin Hospital on 9/7/2017

Each year, approximately 22,000 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. This cancer usually occurs in women in their 50s and 60s, but a woman of any age can be affected. Many women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have a genetic history that may include carrying the BRCA mutation gene and having a strong family history of ovarian cancer.

Many women don't seek help until the cancer has begun to spread, but if detected at its earliest stage, the five-year survival rate is more than 93%. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with less serious, noncancerous conditions.

Common symptoms include:

  • Abdominal bloating, indigestion or nausea
  • Changes in appetite, such as a loss of appetite or feeling full sooner
  • Pressure in the pelvis or lower back
  • A more frequent or urgent need to urinate and/or constipation
  • Changes in bowel movements
  • Increased abdominal girth
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Changes in menstruation​

You are your best advocate! Talk to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2-3 weeks.

Women who have one or more genetic risk factors have an increased chance of getting ovarian cancer. If you are concerned about any of these risk factors, talk to your OB-GYN or a gynecologic oncologist about your personal risk and any possible tests you may need.

Genetic risk factors include:

Family history: Women with a mother, sister, grandmother or aunt who has had ovarian cancer have a higher risk of developing the disease.

Genetic mutations: Some women who develop ovarian cancer have an inherited mutation on one of two genes called Breast Cancer Gene 1 (BRCA1) and Breast Cancer Gene 2 (BRCA2).

Lynch Syndrome and Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome: Women who have these inherited genetic disorders have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer. Lynch Syndrome is characterized by a higher risk of cancers of the digestive tract and gynecologic tract. Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome indicates an increased risk of developing polyps in the digestive tract and several types of cancer, including in the breast, colon, rectum, pancreas, stomach, ovaries, lungs and cervix.

If you need of an OB-GYN, please contact Griffin Faculty Physician’s OB-GYN office at 203-516-5303.