Ovarian Cancer

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Each year, about 22,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

While it is the ninth most common cancer (other than skin cancer) in women, ovarian cancer is the fifth highest cause of cancer death in women. Most women who develop ovarian cancer are older than 60. It is found more often in white than African-American women.

The symptoms or signs of ovarian cancer often are vague or like other conditions. This may make it hard to diagnose. It often has spread to other parts of the body when it is found.

Ovarian cysts are common, often small and don’t always have associated symptoms. Most ovarian cysts are not cancerous, but some ovarian cysts can become cancerous so it’s important to be aware of any changes that may occur.

Over the past 20 years, the five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer has continued to improve.

At Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center, cervical cancer is treated with a multidisciplinary approach in which a team of experts including gynecologic oncologists and radiation oncologists work together to develop an individual treatment plan based on each patient’s unique needs. Clinical nurse navigators work closely with patients, guiding them through their journey and serving as a single point of contact throughout their care.

Learn More About Ovarian Cancer

Risk factors for ovarian cancer include: 

  • Family history: Women at high risk for ovarian cancer include those with a family history of ovarian and/or breast cancer. This is because they may have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutation, which significantly increases the risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Childbirth: Never being pregnant is a risk factor.
  • Infertility: Women who have a history of infertility are at increased risk.

Reducing Your Risk

Although we don’t know how to prevent ovarian cancer yet, there are certain things that may lower a woman’s lifetime risk of ovarian cancer.

  • Take oral contraceptives regularly
  • Consider having a baby
  • Consider a tubal ligation (surgical sterilization procedure)

Are ovarian cysts a risk factor?

Most ovarian cysts, even complex ovarian cysts, are not a cancer risk. It is rare for ovarian cysts to become cancerous.

Take the time to discuss your own risks with your health care provider who can best advise you on the screening exams and risk reduction strategies that are right for you.

Most cancers have the same symptoms as other, less serious conditions. In some cases, symptoms can come on quickly. In others, symptoms may appear slowly over time. Still, it’s important to know the signs of ovarian cancer.

View ovarian cancer symptoms 

At this time, the USPSTF (U.S. Preventive Services Task Force) ovarian cancer screening guidelines state that screening is recommended only for women at increased or high risk. That’s because they have a higher chance of getting the disease.

View the screening recommendations for ovarian cancer

Common cancer treatments include chemotherapy, radiation treatment and surgery. Doctors select the treatment for ovarian cancer based on your test results or diagnosis and disease stage.

View ovarian cancer treatment options