Doctors at Banner MD Anderson Cancer Center take a comprehensive approach to ovarian cancer. Our multidisciplinary team includes experts in gynecological oncology, radiation oncology and medical oncology, as well as highly skilled specialists such as nurses, psychologists, counselors and nutritionists. This experienced care team works together to build a treatment plan individualized to your needs, ensuring you get the best care possible across all aspects of your medical, physical and emotional health.
Ovarian cancer develops when cells in the ovary or the fallopian tubes begin to grow uncontrollably, crowding out normal cells. Women have two ovaries, which are almond-shaped organs on each side of the uterus that store eggs and produce female hormones: estrogen and progesterone.
Ovarian cancer is sometimes called a “silent disease” because its signs and symptoms can be confused with gastrointestinal issues. It may go undetected until late stages, making it more difficult to treat.
The American Cancer Society estimates about 22,500 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer this year, and nearly 14,000 women will die from the disease. Ovarian cancer is the fifth deadliest cancer among women and the highest among female reproductive system cancers. Ovarian cancer survival rates improve significantly if diagnosed early, before the cancer has spread (metastasized).
For many women, consistent bloating is their first sign of ovarian cancer. Knowing your body and taking note of small changes like this can help save your life. It’s always best to talk to your doctor if you have symptoms that worry you, especially if they persist for more than a week.
According to the American Cancer Society, the risk of a woman getting ovarian cancer in her lifetime is 1 in 77. It usually develops in women older than 45 years old, with about half of diagnoses in women older than 63 years old. It tends to be more common in white women than black women. One type of ovarian cancer, called germ cell ovarian cancer, can be diagnosed in teenagers. Ovarian cancer is hereditary, meaning if a close relative had ovarian or breast cancer, there is an increased risk.
The exact cause of ovarian cancer is unknown. However, there are risk factors associated with the disease, including a family history of ovarian, breast or colorectal cancer.
Most symptoms of ovarian cancer don’t show up until later stages of the disease. Pay attention to any lingering symptoms, such as persistent bloating, pain in the abdomen or difficulty eating. Talk to your doctor if you have concerns.
Ovarian cancer can be difficult to diagnose using standard pelvic exams or blood tests. A biopsy and imaging tests are needed to confirm a diagnosis and determine the stage.
Ovarian cancer is usually treated with surgery, followed by chemotherapy. Both carry side effects. Talk to your doctor about your treatment options and what to expect.