Ovarian Cancer: What You Need to Know

Ovarian cancer affects approximately 20,000 American women each year and ranks fifth in cancer-related deaths among women. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of ovarian cancers are found at an early stage, before the cancer has had a chance to spread. Ovarian cancer is often asymptomatic in its early stage; later stages may produce non-specific symptoms that could be associated with a host of medical conditions (e.g., loss of appetite and weight loss).

Most common ovarian cancers

There are more than 30 types of ovarian cancers, however, there are three types that present most commonly. They include:

  • Epithelial tumors are responsible for ninety percent of ovarian cancers. It is found on the outside surface of the ovary and typically affects women over the age of 60.
  • Germ-cell tumors grow in the germ cells, which are responsible for producing reproductive eggs. Though rare, it typically affects teenagers and women in their 20s.
  • Stromal tumors begin in the supporting tissues of the ovary and — though rare — affect women between 40 and 60 years of age.

How to lower your risk of ovarian cancer

Here are some factors that may reduce your risk of developing ovarian cancer:

  • Take birth control pills – Women who take oral birth control for more than three years are 30 to 50 percent less likely to develop ovarian cancer.
  • Breast-feed – The longer a woman breastfeeds, the lower her risk of ovarian cancer.
  • Surgical procedures – Women who have had a hysterectomy and/or tubal ligation may have a lower risk of developing ovarian cancer.
  • Diet – Women who follow a low-fat diet and fill their plates with vegetables and other healthy foods are less likely to develop ovarian cancer.

Treatment options for ovarian cancer

Though this cancer is often diagnosed in later stages, there are treatment options available. The main treatments for ovarian cancer are:

  • Surgery
  • Chemotherapy
  • Hormone therapy
  • Targeted therapy
  • Radiation therapy

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the skilled cancer specialists at The START Center for Cancer Care are here to help you determine the best treatment options. Contact us to schedule an appointment today at 210-593-5790.