September Is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September is national ovarian cancer awareness month, and Pacific Women's OB/GYN Medical Group (PWOG) hopes to raise awareness about ovarian cancer risk factors and prevention so all women can enjoy lives free of this disease.

Each year, over 22,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and for about 14,000 of them, it will prove fatal. Fortunately, the rate of ovarian cancer diagnoses has decreased in the past two decades. However, it is clear that the disease still presents a serious threat to women’s health. Understanding the risk factors for ovarian cancer is very important, as it can allow women the time to proactively address their questions and concerns with their provider as early as possible.

Top risk factors for ovarian cancer

  • Age: Typically, ovarian cancer develops postmenopause, so it is rare in women under the age of 40.
    Weight: Women who are obese face a higher risk of ovarian cancer than those with a healthy body mass index (BMI).
  • Family history: Women with a personal or family history of cancer and/or ovarian cancer are at higher risk than those without either. For example, some types of breast and colorectal cancers are linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer. This includes those who carry the BRCA gene mutation.
  • Birth control use: Studies have shown that women who take the birth control pill (for at least three continuous months) are at a lower risk for ovarian cancer.

PWOG invites patients to view a full list of risk factors for ovarian cancer on the American Cancer Society’s website here.

Can I prevent ovarian cancer?

Being aware of risk factors and addressing concerns with your PWOG provider is an excellent first step toward any form of cancer prevention, including ovarian. If your provider determines that you are at high risk for ovarian cancer, he or she may advise taking oral contraception (the birth control pill) to help lower your risk. In more severe cases, surgical options, such as tubal ligation (having your “tubes tied”) or a hysterectomy, may be recommended to reduce your chance of developing ovarian cancer.

For the majority of women, your best bet for cancer prevention is to lead a healthy, active lifestyle free of tobacco products and to address any questions or concerns about risk factors with your provider early.

Schedule a consultation with your PWOG provider to discuss your risk factors for ovarian cancer.

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