What is ovarian cancer?

By Darci Moore, CNP - Fayette County Public Health

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, ovarian cancer causes more deaths than any other gynecologic cancer and is the second most common gynecological cancer in the US (CDC, 2022). Unfortunately, many times ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it has spread to the abdomen or within the pelvis. Early detection is the key for the best treatment outcomes.

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is cancer in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and or the peritoneum. The ovaries are female organs that produce eggs for reproduction. The eggs pass from the ovaries through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The peritoneum is the tissue lining that covers the abdominal organs. There are many types of ovarian cancers with the most common being high grade serous carcinoma (CDC, 2022).

Who is at risk for ovarian cancer?

– Older and middle-aged women

– Family history of ovarian cancer

– Genetic abnormality called BRCA1 and BRCA2 or genetic abnormality associated with Lynch syndrome

– History of breast, uterine or colorectal cancer

– History of endometriosis

– Women who have never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant

– Women who have taken estrogen with progesterone for 10 or more years

What are symptoms of ovarian cancer?

– Vaginal bleeding (especially concerning for postmenopausal women)

– Abnormal vaginal discharge

– Pelvic pressure or pain

– Back pain or abdominal pain

– Bloating

– Feeling full quickly or trouble eating

– Urinary frequency or constipation

How can I reduce the risk of ovarian cancer?

– Having a tubal ligation, both ovaries removed or a complete hysterectomy

– Giving birth

– Using birth control pills for more than 5 years

– Some studies show that women who have breastfeed for a year or more have a reduced risk

How is ovarian cancer treated?

There are no screenings to test for ovarian cancer in women with no signs and symptoms, so it is important to recognize potential problems to reduce your risks. If you have any of these symptoms see your healthcare provider immediately. Treatment for ovarian cancer includes a combination of surgery and chemotherapy.

Fayette County Public Health offers well woman exams and problematic gynecological visits through our Reproductive Health and Wellness Clinic with late hours available to meet the needs of patients. Call the office at 740-335-5910 if you would like to schedule an appointment.


By Darci Moore, CNP

Fayette County Public Health