May 8 is Ovarian Cancer Day, a day to raise awareness about a type of cancer that affects more than 300,000 women each year. Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women because it is often diagnosed in its later stages. Being aware of the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer and staying on top of routine care can help ensure earlier diagnosis.
Here’s what you need to know.
5 Types of Ovarian Cancer and Risk Factors
There are several types of ovarian cancer:
- Epithelial ovarian cancer. The most common type of ovarian cancer, these cancers start in the cells covering the ovaries.
- Primary peritoneal and fallopian tube cancer. Though much rarer, these are similar to epithelial ovarian cancers and are treated in the same way.
- Germ cell ovarian cancers. These begin in the ovarian cells that develop into eggs. They are rare, often benign, and usually affect women up to their early 30s.
- Sex cord ovarian cancers. These are cancers that grow in the tissues that support the ovaries. They account for about 5% of ovarian cancers. Sex cord ovarian cancers are usually diagnosed in their early stages.
- Borderline ovarian cancers. These account for about 15% of ovarian tumors. They are slow-growing and are highly treatable with surgery. They typically affect women between the ages of 20-40.
Though many factors contribute to ovarian cancer, it is more likely to affect women with a family history of cancer, and especially ovarian or breast cancer. Other risk factors include endometriosis, postmenopausal hormone therapy, and obesity. Understanding your risk factors and participating in routine care will increase your chances of an early diagnosis when ovarian cancer is most treatable.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
The signs of ovarian cancer can include but are not limited to:
- Bloating or swelling in the abdomen
- Feeling full when eating
- Weight loss
- Extreme fatigue
- Pelvic discomfort
- Pain during sex
- Changes to your cycle or menstruation
- Changes to bathroom habits, including constipation
- Increased frequency or urgency of urination
Not all women will experience the same symptoms. If you are experiencing changes to your body that concern you, consult your doctor or gynecologist. Routine check-ups, including pelvic examinations, can also play an important role in screening for possible cancers.
How You Can Spread Awareness
On Ovarian Cancer Day, join us in spreading awareness about ovarian cancer. You can do your part by:
- Sharing the resources found on Cure Our Ovarian Cancer
- Sharing the symptoms of ovarian cancer
- Creating a fundraiser to support ovarian cancer research
- Posting on social media using the hashtag #PowerfulTogether
- Sharing your story to drive awareness and visibility
- Encouraging the women in your life to visit their primary care doctor or OBGYN for a routine check-up.
At SWWO, we are always here for our patients with ovarian and other gynecologic cancers. If you are experiencing symptoms or have been diagnosed, contact us to arrange an appointment.