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One of the most troubling cancers affecting women is ovarian cancer because it often goes undetected until it becomes difficult to treat.

Risk factors

According to the National Cancer Institute, the following groups have an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer:

  • Women whose first-degree female relative (mother, daughter or sister) was diagnosed with breast or ovarian cancer, especially before menopause
  • Women older than 50
  • Women who have never had children
  • Women who have had breast or colon cancer
  • Women who have used fertility drugs
  • Women over age 50 who have used talc in the genital area for many years
  • Women who used hormone replacement therapy after menopause

Hereditary ovarian cancer

About 10 percent of ovarian cancers are genetic.  These cancers tend to strike women at an earlier age than non-hereditary cancers.  Norton Genetic Counseling Service offers genetic education, risk assessment and testing for people who are concerned about their risk of hereditary cancers.  For more information, call (502) 629-GENE.


The best way to prevent ovarian cancer is to have yearly pelvic exams and a vaginal ultrasound if you are at high risk for developing the disease.

Signs and Symptoms

The most common symptoms of ovarian cancer are:

  • General abdominal discomfort and/or pain that does not go away in two or three weeks or worsens
  • Nausea, diarrhea, constipation or frequent urination
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling of fullness even after a light meal
  • Weight gain or loss with no known reason
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding

For more information on ovarian cancer prevention, contact the Norton Cancer Institute Prevention & Early Detection Program at 1-800-555-6772 or (502) 629-5500 or email  A health care professional will research and respond to your question within 48-hours.  Exceptions may include weekends and holidays. 

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