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Would you know if you had ovarian cancer?

Many people think ovarian cancer produces no symptoms or only very subtle symptoms, which is why it's sometimes referred to as the "disease that whispers." But knowing what to look for and what may affect your risk of a disease with less than a 50% survival rate, according to the American Cancer Society, can help you beat the odds.

Answer true or false to each of the statements below for more information about ovarian cancer.

Early stages of ovarian cancer produce no symptoms.

False

Although many people think there are no symptoms of ovarian cancer until the cancer is more advanced, there are some symptoms that may be recognized early. These include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, urinary urgency or frequency and feeling full quickly when eating. These symptoms are often attributable to other conditions, but they should be checked out by a doctor, especially if they linger for more than 2 - 3 weeks or are severe.

Age doesn't matter when it comes to getting ovarian cancer.

False

Although women can get ovarian cancer at any age, most ovarian cancers occur after menopause. Women over age 50 are more likely than younger women to develop the disease. About 50% of ovarian cancers occur in women over age 60. The highest incidence is found in women 75 - 79 years old.

If you have never given birth, you are at a greater risk for ovarian cancer.

True

The more children you have given birth to, the lower your risk of developing ovarian cancer. Women who had their first child after age 30 are also at an increased risk.

You can prevent ovarian cancer.

False

Although there are steps you can take that may reduce your risk of the disease, there is no way to completely prevent ovarian cancer unless your ovaries are removed.

Ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at later stages.

True

Only about 20% of women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer early, when the disease is most curable. When detected early, the 5-year survival rate is over 90%. However, the majority of cases are diagnosed after the cancer has spread.


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Date Last Reviewed: July 30, 2019
Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor
Medical Review: Perry Pitkow, MD
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