September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month (Blog)

Cancer that starts in the ovaries is called “ovarian cancer.”  Ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system because it’s often not diagnosed until it’s in a late stage.

So, it is important to pay attention to your body and to know what is normal for you. Signs and symptoms may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see your doctor, nurse or other health care professional.

The common risk factors for ovarian cancer are:

  • Being middle-aged or older.
  • Having a close family member (your mother, sister, aunt or grandmother) on either your mother’s or father’s side who had ovarian cancer.
  • Having the genetic abnormality BRCA1 or BRCA2.
  • Having had breast, colon, cervical or skin cancer.
  • Having never given birth or having had trouble getting pregnant.
  • Having endometriosis.

The signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • Vaginal bleeding or discharge that is not normal for you.
  • Pain in the pelvic or abdominal area.
  • Back pain.
  • Abdominal bloating.
  • Feeling full quickly while eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as having to pass urine very badly or very often, constipation or diarrhea.

See a doctor if you have any of these signs or symptoms if it is not normal for you and if it lasts two weeks or longer. It may be caused by something other than cancer, but the only way to know is to see a doctor. The earlier ovarian cancer is found and treated, the more likely treatment will be effective.

For further information, please visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s webpage on ovarian cancer: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/ovarian/index.htm .

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