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Q&A Topic: Ovarian Cancer


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Iris Wertheim, MD

Q. Am I at risk for ovarian cancer?

A. If you have a family history of breast, ovary or uterine cancer, or have a genetic predisposition, you have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer. Unfortunately, most women who develop ovarian cancer do not have risk factors. The good news is that ovarian cancer is relatively uncommon, with 21,290 annual cases in the United State compared to 132,700 cases of colon cancer.

Q. What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

A. Most women have no symptoms during the early stage of the disease, when the cancer is confined to the ovaries. However, sometimes women with ovarian cancer experience symptoms such as weight gain, feeling bloated, experiencing a change in eating habits—such as feeling full sooner than normal—changes in bowel habits, abdominal pain, pain when urinating, or pain during intercourse. Because these symptoms mimic more common conditions, they are often ignored.

Q. How can I increase the chance that ovarian cancer will be detected?

A. If you have a worrisome symptom for several weeks, see your primary care physician or gynecologist. Ask specifically about ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer is typically detected by an imaging study such as a pelvic ultrasound or CT scan. A physical (pelvic) exam is also helpful.

Q. How is ovarian cancer treated?

A. A woman showing signs of ovarian cancer nearly always requires surgery and often requires chemotherapy. The earlier a diagnosis can be made, the better the prognosis. At Northern Westchester Hospital, we treat ovarian cancer using a multidisciplinary approach that includes multiple specialists and extensive supportive services. The bottom line? Be aware of abnormal symptoms that persist and make sure they are evaluated by your doctor.

Northern Westchester Hospital
Director of the Gynecologic Oncology
Program at the Cancer Treatment and Wellness Center
Learn More About Dr. Wertheim

Northern Westchester Hospital is a proud member of Northwell Health (formerly North Shore-LIJ Health System).

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