Ovarian Cancer is called the silent killer because it is often not diagnosed until it is in an advanced stage. It is the second most common gyn cancer, but is the most common cause of death from a gyn cancer.
Some of the reasons that it is the most common cause of death due to gyn cancer is due to late stage at time of diagnosis. There are many reasons for this. One is that the symptoms are very vague and can be caused by other non-cancer illnesses. Some of the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer include:
Decrease in appetite
Pelvic or Abdominal Pain
Risk factors for Ovarian Cancer include age, genetics, and family history. The older you are the greater your risk for Ovarian Cancer. Ages 50-75 have annual incidence rate of 50/100,000. Family history is the strongest risk factor for Ovarian Cancer. This risk is highest when it was diagnosed in a first degree relative, especially if they were diagnosed at an early age. There is also an elevated risk of ovarian cancer if there is a history of a male relative with Breast Cancer.
There are things that can decrease risk of getting Ovarian Cancer. These are anything that can stop ovulation, such as pregnancy, birth control pills, and breast feeding. This decrease in Ovarian Cancer risk is due to stopping ovulation, which decreases the amount of epithelial damage done every month to the ovary.
There currently isn’t a test that is sensitive enough for the diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer. There is a lab test that is currently being used, but it is not very specific. There are multiple other diseases which can cause the test to be falsely elevated. This is why it is important to discuss with your physician when you have symptoms of pelvic or abdominal pain, changes in your bowel habits or appetite lasting more than 2 weeks. It is also important to get annual physical exams. During your annual physical exam, you have the opportunity to speak with your provider about family history, any symptoms you are having, and for them to do a pelvic exam and order any further testing that may be needed.