Get the facts.
Recognize the signs.
Working Together for 14 Years
About Ovarian Cancer
Get the Facts. Recognize the Signs.
Facts and Statistics
Each year, approximately 21,980 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer. In 2014, approximately 14,270 women will die in the United States from ovarian cancer. Many women don't seek help until the disease has begun to spread, but if detected at its earliest stage (Stage 1), the five-year survival rate is more than 93%. The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often subtle and easily confused with other ailments.
Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women.
Ovarian Cancer Signs and Symptoms
Ovarian cancer symptoms are often subtle and difficult to diagnose. Research suggests there are four symptoms that may be associated with ovarian cancer:
• Pelvic or Abdominal pain
• Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
• Urinary urgency or frequency
Other symptoms may include:
• Nausea, indigestion, gas, constipation or diarrhea
• Extreme fatigue
• Shortness of breath
Talk to your doctor if symptoms last more than 2-3 weeks. You are your best advocate.
Ovarian Cancer Diagnosis
Your doctor may order the following tests:
• Physical examination - Your doctor will palpate your abdomen to look for discomfort and tenderness or abnormal fluid
• Pelvic examination
• Blood Test - Your doctor may order a CA-125 blood test. This test measures CA-125 in the blood. CA-125 is found on the surface on ovarian cancer cells and also normal tissue. A high CA-125 level may indicate ovarian cancer or other conditions.
Stages of Ovarian Cancer
There are four stages of ovarian cancer. Your doctor will determine your stage of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is treated differently depending on which stage you are diagnosed with.
The four primary stages are:
Stage I: The cancer is completely contained within the ovary or ovaries
Stage II: The cancer is in one or both of the ovaries and has spread to additional organs located in the pelvis such as the bladder, colon, rectum or uterus.
Stage III: The cancer is in one or both ovaries and has spread to one or both of the following: the lining of the abdomen or the lymph nodes.
Stage IV: The most advanced stage of cancer. The cancer has spread from one or both ovaries to additional organs such as the liver or lungs, or there may be cancer cells in the fluid surrounding the lungs.
Recurrent: The cancer has returned after successful treatment.
The four stages of cancer are also divided into sub-groups.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
Ovarian cancer does not discriminate. It can strike a woman of any race or at any age. We do know that women with certain risk factors may have a greater chance of developing ovarian cancer. These risk factors include:
• Family history of breast or ovarian cancer
• Personal history of cancer
• Women over the age of 55
• Women who were never pregnant
• Women on menopausal hormone replacement therapy
Studies have found that women who have a mother, daughter, or sister with ovarian cancer have an increased risk of developing this disease. Women with a family history of breast cancer, uterine cancer, colon cancer or rectal cancer many also have increased risk.
Women with the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer. More information about the BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 genes can be found here.
Ovarian Cancer Research
Doctors all across the country are currently conducting clinical trials and rearching ovarian cancer. The researchers are studying new ways to detect as well as treat ovarian cancer.
Some research and clinical trials are occurring right here in Massachusetts at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women's Hospital. To read about the DNA marker predicting drug response in breast and ovarian cancers, please click here.
Researchers identify new subtype of ovarian cancer may be vulnerable to anti-angiogenic drugs (February 15, 2012) - The discovery of a subtype of ovarian cancer that could account for up to one-third of all serous ovarian cancers may lead to clinical trials using anti-angiogenic drugs that are already being tested in other cancers. To read the story, please click here.
OvarianCancerAwareness.org is a coalition of 3 member organizations dedicated to fighting ovarian cancer. The Coalition began in 2000 and has continued to work together to increase awareness of ovarian cancer. Coalition members include: The M. Patricia Cronin Foundation to Fight Ovarian Cancer, The Dana-Faber/Brigham & Women’s Cancer Center, and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.