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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer is cancer that begins in the ovaries. The ovaries make female hormones and produce a woman's eggs. Ovarian cancer is a serious cancer that is more common in older women. Treatment is most effective when the cancer is found early.

Who gets ovarian cancer?

Around one in every 60 women in the United States will develop ovarian cancer. Most ovarian cancers are diagnosed in women over 60, but this disease can also affect younger women. Among women in the United States, ovarian cancer is the eighth most common cancer and the fifth leading cause of cancer death.

Women with a family or personal history of breast or ovarian cancer have a higher risk of ovarian cancer.

What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The following may be symptoms of ovarian cancer if they continue or get worse over time:

  • Pain in the pelvis or abdomen (belly)
  • Bloating in the abdomen
  • Urinary urgency (needing to pee right away)
  • Urinary frequency (having to pee often)
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Feeling full quickly while eating
  • Having difficulty eating
  • Vaginal bleeding or other discharge that is different than normal
  • Back pain

If you have any of these symptoms, talk to your doctor. He or she can determine if the cause is cancer or something else. Your doctor also may ask you to visit a gynecologic oncologist. This is a doctor who focuses on cancers of the female pelvis.


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