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Woman getting pelvic exam

Decrease your
risk of ovarian cancer

Based on the latest medical research, here’s what you need to know about ovarian cancer — the risks, early detection and preventive measures.

Ways to detect ovarian cancer early

  • Get your annual pelvic exam. While a Pap smear detects cervical cancer, not ovarian cancer, it will help your doctor determine if you need additional testing.
  • See a doctor if you have symptoms including abdominal swelling or bloating, abdominal pressure and pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, and frequent urination. These symptoms can also be caused by less serious conditions like uterine fibroids.
  • Get a screening test. Currently, the most popular detection tests for ovarian cancer are transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) and the CA-125 blood test.

Non-hereditary risk factors

  • The risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age; close to 70 percent of ovarian cancer cases occur after the age of 50.
  • Postmenopausal use of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) may cause ovarian cancer, and the risk may vary with the use of estrogen replacement therapy (ERT).
  • Infertility treatment has been associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer, primarily in women who did not get pregnant afterward.
  • Talcum powder might cause ovarian cancer if the powder particles (applied to the genital area on a sanitary napkin, tampon, diaphragm or condom) travel through the vagina, uterus and fallopian tubes to the ovary.
  • Obesity is associated with increased deaths from ovarian cancer.
  • A personal history of breast cancer may increase a risk of ovarian cancer, because the diseases may be caused by the same genetic mutations.

Protective factors

  • Using oral contraceptives.
  • Having and breastfeeding children.
  • Having a bilateral tubal ligation or hysterectomy.
  • Having your ovaries removed (prophylactic oophorectomy).
  • A healthy diet rich in vitamin E, green leafy vegetables and cruciferous veggies such as broccoli, cabbage and cauliflower, and a low intake of red meat and dairy products.

More health tips for women

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Colorectal cancer happens to women
How to prevent oral cancer

Photo credit: MesserWoland
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