Three generations of cheerful women smiling at camera

September is National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Sadly, ovarian cancer is one of the five leading causes of death among American women. It’s important to understand that a routine PAP test detects cervical cancer but NOT ovarian cancer which can be discovered by a pelvic exam usually combined with an ultrasound and a CA-125 blood test. Women with a family history of someone with ovarian, breast, or colon cancer should be particularly vigilant.

While all women are at some degree of risk, post menopausal women or those who have not ever been pregnant or given birth have a higher incidence of the disease. However, it has been show that a history of oral contraceptive use, pregnancy, or breast feeding lower the risk. In addition, tubal ligation, ovary/falloppian tube removal, or hysterectomy also reduce the chances for ovarian cancer.

Women should be alert and see a gynecologist promptly if any of the following symptoms occur for several days in any month:

  • Abdominal of pelvic pain or discomfort more than usually associated with menstrual cramps
  • Bloating or feeling full quickly after eating
  • Increased frequency or urgency of urination

Early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer will yield the best outcomes. Regular pelvic exams are key to detecting ovarian cancer and other female reproductive system related problems. See our skilled OB/GYNs for your annual exam. www.hackensackumgpv.org/specialties/obstetrics-gynecology/