Ovarian cancer

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Updated: 4/11/2007 2:45 pm
Ovarian cancer is hard to detect because it's usually unnoticeable until it has spread beyond the ovary. The ovaries are part of a woman's reproductive system and are located on each side of the uterus. Each ovary is the size and shape of an almond. They store a woman's eggs, or ova, and are the main source of female hormones. The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are swelling, bloating, discomfort in the lower abdomen, loss of appetite, and a feeling of fullness. Other symptoms may include gas, indigestion, nausea, and weight loss. Larger tumors may result in constipation, frequent urination, and fluid buildup in the abdomen. If these symptoms last for two weeks, see your healthcare provider. Most ovarian cancers occur in women over age 50, but the disease can occur in younger women. Women who have regular pelvic exams increase their chances of detecting ovarian cancer early. Risk factors of ovarian cancer include having had breast cancer and never being pregnant. If ovarian cancer has been found in several family members, such as the mother, sisters, and/or daughters, a woman is at greater risk and should be carefully monitored by a doctor. Ovarian cancer rates are lower in women who use oral contraceptives, those whose first pregnancy is at an early age, and those who have early menopause. For more information about ovarian cancer, consult your healthcare provider.

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