Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer most often occurs in older women. About half of the women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 63 years or older. We don’t know what causes ovarian cancer, but several factors do appear to raise a woman’s risk for it.

Primary risk factors for ovarian cancer can include:

  • A family history of ovarian cancer, especially direct relatives including mothers, sisters and/or daughters.
  • A family history of other types of cancer, including colon, rectal, pancreas and breast.
  • Inherited mutations in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene, both of which are also linked to higher risk of developing breast cancer. Some women choose to have genetic testing for inherited gene mutations.

If you are concerned about your risk for ovarian cancer, talk with your Mercy doctor. Some women with increased risk choose to have preventive surgery, such as a hysterectomy, to ensure they do not develop ovarian cancer. Your doctor can discuss the pros and cons of preventive surgery and help you make the best choice for your health.

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

In the early stages of ovarian cancer, there often are no symptoms. Some women have abdominal bloating, cramping or pelvic pain. They may feel full quickly, have indigestion or a more frequent need to urinate. Symptoms are easily mistaken for other common conditions, such as an upset stomach or premenstrual syndrome.

If you have symptoms like these for more than a few weeks, make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible to find out what is causing them. Like most cancers, the earlier ovarian cancer is detected, the greater the likelihood of successful treatment.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

Mercy doctors and cancer specialists are experts in diagnosing and treating ovarian cancer. We’ll make sure you understand your condition and decide on the treatment plan that’s best for you.

Ovarian cancer treatment usually includes both surgery and chemotherapy. Your surgeon will remove as much of the tumor as possible. After surgery, you will likely be treated with chemotherapy to kill any remaining cancer cells that may have spread beyond the tumor.

Mercy has skilled surgeons and advanced technology to perform many gynecological procedures using minimally invasive, robotic-assisted approaches.

You may also wish to consider participation in a cancer treatment trial or research study. Clinical trials typically test new drugs or new combinations of drugs, new types of surgery or radiation therapy. The goal of the research is to find better ways to treat cancer, and help cancer patients. Mercy collaborates with other healthcare providers through Cancer Research for the Ozarks. Talk to your doctor to learn more about clinical trials that may apply to you.

Comprehensive Care for Ovarian Cancer Patients

A diagnosis of ovarian cancer is certainly alarming, but you are not in this alone. We’re dedicated to providing the best possible medical treatment for your body, mind and spirit with compassion and support. Your Mercy care team will be with you every step of the way.

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