Ovarian cancer is the second most common gynecologic cancer in the U.S., and it causes more deaths “than any other cancer of the female reproductive system,” according to the CDC.
Ovarian cancer can often be hard to diagnose because there is currently no reliable way to screen for the disease.
While early signs of ovarian cancer can be vague, the main symptoms are abdominal pain or pelvic pain, bloating and an increase in urination, according to Dr. Jennifer Ashton, ABC News chief medical correspondent and a board-certified OB-GYN.
“If these symptoms or others last for more than half the month you want to alert a gynecologist and, again, talk about the fact that it could possibly be ovarian cancer,” Ashton said previously on “Good Morning America,” after Christiane Amanpour, chief international anchor for CNN, announced her own ovarian cancer diagnosis.
In some cases, targeted use of pelvic scans and sonograms or a CA-125 blood test may be used to detect ovarian cancer, but additional testing is “not one size fits all and it is not recommended for all women,” explained Ashton.
Treatment for ovarian cancer usually involves a combination of surgery and chemotherapy, according to the CDC.
A woman’s risk for developing ovarian cancer at a younger age increases if they have a family history of breast, ovarian, uterine, or colorectal cancer, or has a specific genetic mutation like the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes.
In addition, other risk factors for ovarian cancer include but are not limited to, being middle age or older, having a close family member who has had ovarian cancer, having endometriosis, having never given birth, and having breast, uterine or colorectal cancer, according to the CDC.
While there is no known way to prevent ovarian cancer, the CDC notes there are things associated with lowering the risk of getting ovarian cancer, such as using birth control for five or more years, having given birth, breastfeeding, having had a hysterectomy, having had your ovaries removed and having had tubal litigation.