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Compassionate, Local Care for Ovarian Cancer in Fall River & Fairhaven, MA
Ovarian cancer accounts for about 3% of cancers affecting American women. Each year in the United States, more than 20,000 women find out they have ovarian cancer.
Having ovarian cancer means you have malignant cells in an ovary, the reproductive gland that makes eggs. Although there are many different types of ovarian cancer, the three main types are grouped based on the cells where the cancer starts:
- Epithelial tumors develop in the outer layer of the ovary. They are the most common type, representing about 90% of ovarian cancers, and typically develop in women older than 50. Most of these tumors are in advanced stages at diagnosis.
- Germ cell tumors start in the egg-producing cells. Less than 5% of ovarian cancers are germ cell tumors. Most occur in women younger than 30 and are highly curable.
- Stromal tumors grow in the connective tissue that holds the ovary together and produce hormones. They are the least common of the three main types. Stromal tumors occur more commonly in older women. They are often found at an early stage because they usually cause vaginal bleeding.
At Southcoast Health, we provide an abundance of resources to patients before, during and after an ovarian cancer diagnosis. To learn more, contact the Southcoast Health Cancer Center or find a doctor near you.
Ovarian Cancer Risk Factors
A woman can develop ovarian cancer without having a risk factor. However, factors known to increase risk of ovarian cancer include:
- Age — most ovarian cancers develop after menopause
- Caucasian race
- Estrogen hormone replacement therapy for 5 to 10 years or longer
- Family or personal history of breast, ovarian or colon cancer
- Fertility medication use
- Genetics — 5 to 10% of ovarian cancers are related to mutations in genes such as BRCA1, BRCA2 and PTEN
- Never being pregnant or carrying a first full-term pregnancy after age 35
- Reproductive conditions, such as endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome
- Lifestyle factors, such as being overweight and eating a high-fat diet
Signs of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer can be hard to detect, and there are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer. Symptoms usually don’t develop until ovarian cancer is in advanced stages, and they tend to be vague. They include:
- Abdominal, pelvic or back pain
- Menstrual changes
- Pain during sex
- Trouble eating, feeling full quickly or upset stomach
- Urinary symptoms, such as having to go frequently or urgently
See your doctor if any of these symptoms persist for more than two weeks.
Routine cancer screenings are the key to detecting your current risks for cancer, helping both you and your doctor plan a response in advance. Screenings can help detect cancer early and that is the best prevention.
Cancer screenings are designed to catch cancer at the earliest stage or even at a precancerous stage. Early detection is the best prevention.
Cancer screenings allow patients to make informed decisions. Even if you do not have cancer, it is still important to undergo a screening so that you are aware of your current and future risks for developing the disease.
Treatment Options at Southcoast Health
Treatment depends on the type and stage of ovarian cancer. Standard treatment options include:
With an expertise in cancer care, Southcoast Health provides ovarian cancer treatment to patients in Fall River, Fairhaven and across southeastern Massachusetts and Rhode Island.