6 cancer symptoms women shouldn't ignore
Ovarian cancer is cancer of the ovaries – the female glands where eggs form and the hormones estrogen and progesterone are produced.
At this time, ovarian cancer screening is recommended only for women at increased or high risk.
Being at increased risk does not mean you will definitely get ovarian cancer. But it does mean you should start regular screening exams to detect cancer if it develops. When found early, the chances for successfully treating the disease are greatest.
The following factors put you at increased risk for ovarian cancer:
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations or suspected risk of BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations
- One close relative with ovarian cancer who has a suspected BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutation
- Lynch syndrome (hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer)
- If you fall into any of these groups, talk to your doctor about the following screening exams:
- Transvaginal ultrasound every 6-12 months
- CA 125 blood test every 6-12 months
For women with BRCA1 or BRCA2 mutations who are finished having children, a surgery called salpingo-oophorectomy, or surgery to remove your fallopian tubes and ovaries, is strongly recommended.
If you are unsure about your risk, print and share MD Anderson’s ovarian cancer screening chart with your doctor.
See your doctor if you have symptoms of ovarian cancer
Because the symptoms are often vague, ovarian cancer is often diagnosed at a later stage, when it’s harder to treat. Roughly 4 out of 5 women are diagnosed at a late stage. It’s important to be aware of your body and be on the lookout for changes that might be symptoms of ovarian cancer. These symptoms do not always mean you have ovarian cancer, but it's a good idea to discuss them with your health care provider if they are new, last more than a few weeks or happen more than 12 times a month.
Exams for women who’ve had ovarian cancer
If you’ve had ovarian cancer, you need a different plan to check for cancer recurrence. Print and share MD Anderson’s ovarian cancer survivorship chart with your doctor. Your doctor can use this chart to develop a more tailored screening plan for you.
The screening plans on this page apply to women expected to live for at least 10 years. They’re not for women who have a health condition that may make it hard to diagnose or treat ovarian cancer. Your doctor can help you decide if you should continue screening after age 75.
Genetic Counseling Appointment
Existing MD Anderson patients: Request a genetic counseling referral from your attending provider.