Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that needs attention, because with early diagnosis and treatment, the problem is resolved in a short time. That’s why we’ve put together a short list of how to watch out for you below.
You may have heard that ovarian cancer is sometimes called the “silent killer.” This is because it usually has no signs or symptoms until it is an advanced stage. Experts are looking for new ways to help find ovarian cancer sooner. Until they do, there are a few steps you can take to help your doctor detect it as soon as possible, such as the following.
1. Get regular inspection.
There is no screening test for ovarian cancer. During a routine pelvic exam, your doctor will check the size and shape of your ovaries and notice any problems or changes. Getting regular checkups is also a good way to find potential health problems and talk about any unusual symptoms you may have.
2. Know the early warning signs.
Sometimes women can have early warning signs of ovarian cancer. These may include:
- Abnormal bleeding or discharge from the vagina
- Back pain
- constipation or diarrhea
- Feeling of fullness while eating
- The need to urinate more often or more urgently
- Pain or pressure in the stomach area
- Swelling or bloating in the stomach area
It is important to know that many of these symptoms can also be caused by other conditions that are not cancer. If any of these symptoms are new to you or have been present for more than a few weeks, it’s a good idea to see your doctor.
3. Be aware of your risks.
There are some factors that can affect your risk of ovarian cancer. While you can’t change most of these risks, it’s good to know about them.
You may have a higher risk of developing ovarian cancer if:
- have long stature
- Obesity and obesity
- Having ovarian cancer in someone else in the family (hereditary predisposition)
- Having inherited genes that put you at risk, such as the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes
- Using estrogen-only hormone replacement therapy after menopause
- using fertility drugs
- Using cosmetic products around the vagina
Your risk of ovarian cancer may be lower if:
- if you are pregnant
- If you have breastfed a baby
- if you have had surgery to remove both ovaries, called prophylactic oophorectomy (some women who are genetically at high risk of ovarian cancer choose to have this surgery to prevent ovarian cancer)
- If you had your tubes tied
- If you have used oral contraceptives (the longer you use these drugs, the lower your risk of ovarian cancer)
If you have questions about your particular risks, you can talk to an obstetrician. When talking to your doctor about ovarian cancer, be sure to share all information with your doctor, such as personal and family health history. This will help your doctor determine your personal risk of ovarian cancer.