The Ovarian Cancer Quiz introduces the risk factors, screening and diagnosis methods, and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer begins in the ovary, a female reproductive organ that produces an ovum (egg). Those at risk of developing ovarian cancer include women over the age of 40, family history of cancer, and those who have children late (age 35 or older) or not at all.
How is Ovarian Cancer Screened?
If an abnormality is suspected, a physician will perform the following screening tests for ovarian cancer:
- Complete pelvic exam: After turning 18 or being sexually active, women should have an annual exam from their gynecologist to ensure their reproductive system is healthy.
- CA-125 blood test: CA-125 is a protein seen in high levels among ovarian cancer patients. If high levels are detected, the test can be repeated to ensure correct results before performing other tests. If treatment is successful so far, levels of this protein will decrease so physicians use this test as a tumor marker.
- Transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS): Sound waves are used to look at the female reproductive system to help detect a tumor, although the test is unable to distinguish the tumor as cancerous or benign.
What are the Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
Many symptoms caused by ovarian cancer can also be signs of other diseases and illnesses, so it is important to contact your physician right away once any symptoms are experienced. The most common symptoms experienced in patients with ovarian cancer include:
- Bloating and feeling full quickly
- Pelvic and abdominal pain
- Urinary issues such as urgency or frequency
Other symptoms of ovarian cancer that are seen less often include:
- Back pain
- Pain during intercourse
- Menstrual irregularities
The overall five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer patients is an estimated 45%. Depending on the stage and type of tumor, the rate can change drastically. For example, when treated in an early stage before metastasizing, or localized cases, have a survival rate of 92%. Those in advanced stage IV, called “distant”, have a survival rate of 28%. This shows why early detection of cancer and annual screenings for those at risk of ovarian cancer are so important for the treatment to be successful.