Mount Sinai experts offer tips on knowing risks and detecting symptoms of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of death in American women and according to the National Cancer Institute, approximately 22,000 women will be diagnosed with the disease and 14,000 will die from it.

"Any woman who experiences unexplained bloating, an upset stomach, an urgency to urinate or abdominal pain for a few weeks, should go see a doctor," said Peter Dottino, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology, the Mount Sinai Health System. "Too often, women are sent to a gastroenterologist, or told they're just aging when experiencing these kinds of symptoms, and by then they have lost valuable time."

Mount Sinai experts are available during September's Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month to offer tips on detecting symptoms, understanding the benefits of genetic testing, and to discuss emerging therapies.

Experts Available for Interview

  • Peter Dottino, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology, Mount Sinai Health System
  • Stephanie Blank, MD, Director of Women's Health, Mount Sinai Downtown Chelsea Center; Professor of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai
  • Lisa Anderson, MD, Director of Gynecologic Oncology, Mount Sinai West and Mount Sinai St. Luke's
  • Nimesh Nagarsheth, MD, Associate Professor Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Science, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

Know Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Because the ovaries are small and embedded deep within the abdominal cavity, detection is difficult. Since the prognosis depends on the stage and grade of the cancer, it's especially important to recognize the following symptoms:

  • Gastrointestinal upset such as gas, indigestion or nausea
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal pain or discomfort
  • Pelvic and/or abdominal bloating or swelling
  • A constant feeling of fullness
  • Unexplained change in bowel and/or bladder habits
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Abnormal or any bleeding post-menopause

Know Ovarian Cancer Risks

  • Family and personal history: more than 10 percent of ovarian cancers are attributed to inherited genetic mutations. Mutations inBRCA1 and BRCA2 are responsible for most inherited ovarian cancers. The lifetime ovarian cancer risk for women with a BRCA1 mutation is estimated to be between 40 and 50 percent. (BRCA2 mutations: between 10 percent and 29 percent by age 70.) In comparison, the ovarian cancer lifetime risk for the women in the general population is less than 2 percent.
  • Age: Ovarian cancer is not a normal disease of aging, but risk increases with age. Most ovarian cancers develop after menopause, and half of all ovarian cancers are found in women 63 years of age or older.
  • Hormone therapy: Long term use of oral contraceptives reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer by approximately 50 percent.
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