Every year, nearly 20,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Unlike other cancers, ovarian cancer silently plagues women with subtle symptoms or none at all. Since there's currently no simple screening test available for ovarian cancer, it's important to know the potential warning signs.
Although women ages 50 and older are more likely to develop ovarian cancer, it can also affect younger women. Because mild discomfort could be misconstrued as menstrual cycle symptoms, ovarian cancer is easily ignored. According to the American Cancer Society, women should pay attention to the following symptoms of ovarian cancer:
- Back pain
- Pain during sex
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms, such as urgency (always feeling like you have to go) or frequency (having to go more often)
Certain factors may increase your risk for ovarian cancer, such as:
- A previous cancer diagnosis
- Family history of ovarian cancer
- Hormone replacement therapy for menopause
- Increasing age
|The Connection to Motherhood
While ovarian cancer cannot be prevented, research suggests that women who have had one or more children are less likely to develop it. Breastfeeding for at least one year also lowers a woman's risk of developing ovarian cancer.
After pregnancy, some women opt to have their fallopian tubes tied; this also lowers the risk of ovarian cancer. Women should consult their physician before undergoing this procedure.
Even women who do not have children can take an active role in reducing their risk of ovarian cancer. Women should be sure to eat a balanced diet packed with colorful fruits and vegetables and exercise at least 30 minutes per day most days of the week. If you are concerned about your risk for ovarian cancer, talk to your physician.
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