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Division of Cancer
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Ovarian Cancer Basic Information
Among women in the United States, ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death, after lung and bronchus, breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers.* Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. But when ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment can be most effective.
Signs and Symptoms
Ovarian cancer often causes signs and symptoms. See your doctor, nurse, or other health care professional if you have any of these signs every day for two weeks or longer and they are not normal for you, especially if they get worse:
Also, see your doctor if you have any bleeding from your vagina that is not normal for you, particularly if you are past menopause. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor. The earlier ovarian cancer is found and treated, the more likely treatment will be effective.
There is no way to know for sure if you will get ovarian cancer. Most women get it without being at high risk. However, several factors may increase the chance that you will get ovarian cancer, including if you
If you have one or more of these factors, it does not mean you will get ovarian cancer. But you should speak with your doctor about your risk.
Steps to Help Prevent Ovarian Cancer
There is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer. But these things may lower your chance of getting ovarian cancer:
There is no simple and reliable way to test for ovarian cancer in women who do not have any signs or symptoms. The Pap test does not check for ovarian cancer; however, here are steps you can take:
Read the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommendation against routine screening for ovarian cancer.
If your doctor says that you have ovarian cancer, ask to be referred to a gynecologic oncologist—a doctor who has been trained to treat cancers of a woman's reproductive system. This doctor will work with you to create a treatment plan.
*Incidence counts cover approximately 98 percent of the U.S. population. Mortality counts cover 100 percent of the U.S. population. Use caution in comparing incidence and mortality counts.
Page last reviewed: March 14, 2008
Page last updated: March 14, 2008
Content source: Division of Cancer Prevention and Control, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion