When cancer starts in the ovaries, it is called ovarian cancer. Women have two ovaries that are located in the pelvis, one on each side of the uterus. The ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs. The fallopian tubes are small ducts that connect the ovaries to the uterus. When the term “ovarian cancer” is used, it includes fallopian tube cancer because it is often unclear where the cancer started, and fallopian tube cancer is closely related to ovarian cancer and treated the same way. When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment is most effective.
Signs & Symptoms:
Ovarian cancer may have one or more sign and symptom, including but not limited to the following findings:
- Vaginal bleeding, particularly if you are past menopause, or vaginal discharge that is not considered normal for you
- Pain or pressure or bloating in the pelvic or abdominal region
- Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating
- A change in your bathroom habits, such as an urgent need to urinate and/or constipation
- Back pain
It is important to pay attention to your body and know what is considered normal for you. If you have vaginal bleeding that is not normal for you, or if you have any of the other signs for two weeks or longer, please call our office to schedule an appointment. These symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, which is why it is important to see your clinician to determine the cause.
How Can I Prevent Ovarian Cancer
Currently, there is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer, but there are some things that have been associated with lowering your risk:
- Having used birth control pills for more than five years
- Giving birth
- Having a salpingectomy (removal of fallopian tubes)
- Having breastfed a baby
If you think you may be at high risk for ovarian cancer, or if you have a famiy history of ovarian cancer, talk with your clinician about whether there are tests that may be suitable for you.
Treatment for Ovarian Cancer
Treatment for ovarian cancer involves surgical removal of the ovaries, uterus, cervix and fallopian tubes. We may recommend you consult with a gynecologic oncologist for further evaluation and treatment.