Ovarian Cancer: Signs, symptoms and risk factors

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Ovarian cancer is a form of cancer that most often attacks the cells on the outside of the ovaries.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer are more vague than those of other cancers and can often be confused with common illnesses. Symptoms include increased abdominal growth, bloating or abdominal distension, weight gain and feeling full quickly.

Although it is one of the less common forms of gynecological cancers, ovarian cancer has lower survival rates because diagnosis usually occurs in the later stages.

Because it is less prevalent than other types of cancer, screening methods and tests are not as advanced as screenings for more common forms of gynecological cancers such as breast and cervical. Therefore it is important for women to discuss any symptoms they are experiencing with their doctor, especially if they have experienced them multiple times within a month.

It is also important for women to discuss with their doctor any risk factors they may have for ovarian cancer, which include increasing age, family history and/or genetic predisposition to the disease.

Because ovarian cancer often presents in a late stage, the treatment plan almost always includes surgery and chemotherapy.

Cone Health’s partnership with board-certified gynecological oncologists at UNC at Chapel Hill allows women diagnosed with ovarian cancer, and other gynecological cancers to receive exceptional care and cancer treatment right here in the community—close to work, home and their support networks.

Spokesperson Background:

Nancy Wilkinson is the clinical nurse specialist for gynecological oncology at Cone Health Cancer Center.  She earned a Bachelor of Science in Nursing in 1982 and a Master of Science in Nursing in 1994 from University of North Carolina at Greensboro School of Nursing.

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