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Ovarian Cancer Facts

Know the Symptoms, Know Your Risks


  • Annual gynecological exams (Pap Smears) do NOT check for this cancer.

  • 22,000 American / 330 Colorado women are diagnosed annually.

  • Although most prevalent in women over 50 years of age, it can and does affect women and girls of all ages. All women are at risk. 1 in 72 Colorado women will develop invasive ovarian cancer in their lifetime.

  • There’s NO specific screening tool for ovarian cancer—symptom recognition is key.

  • The majority of women with ovarian cancer had no family history of the disease.

  • The medical community often misses diagnosing this cancer.

  • The latest research shows OC is NOT silent, with four common symptoms experienced by 95% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer:

    • ​Bloating

    • Abdominal Pressure or Pain

    • Feeling Full Quickly when eating a meal

    • Urinary Urgency or Frequency

  • Women who experience even ONE of these symptoms for more than 2 weeks in any month should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist, and ask for a Transvaginal Ultrasound, Pelvic / Rectal Exam, and CA 125 blood test.

Early Detection is the Key to Survival

  • Know the symptoms—listen to your body—see four common symptoms

  • TRACK your symptoms and advocate for yourself in your doctor’s office. Missed or delayed diagnosis is common.

  • DON’T WAIT!  If you’ve had one or more symptoms for more than two weeks, see a gynecologist, ask about ovarian cancer and request a CA125 blood test, a pelvic/rectal exam and a transvaginal ultrasound. 

  • Understand that all women are at risk, but some risk factors heighten a woman's chance of developing ovarian cancer:

    • Women of Eastern European Jewish descent

    • Women of Hispanic heritage, including women from Colorado's San Luis Valley

    • Women who have never been pregnant

    • Women who have never used birth control

    • Those who have a family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer may also have an increased risk.

For general questions about ovarian cancer, please contact:

What are the Types of Ovarian Cancer?

Different types of ovarian cancer are classified according to the type of cell from which they start.

Epithelial tumors – About 90 percent of ovarian cancers develop in the epithelium, the thin layer of tissue that covers the ovaries. This form of ovarian cancer generally occurs in postmenopausal women.

Germ cell carcinoma tumors – Making up about five percent of ovarian cancer cases, this type begins in the cells that form eggs. While germ cell carcinoma can occur in women of any age, it tends to be found most often in women in their early 20s. Six main kinds of germ cell carcinoma exist, but the three most common types are: teratomas, dysgerminomas and endodermal sinus tumors. Many tumors that arise in the germ cells are benign.

Stromal carcinoma tumors – Ovarian stromal carcinoma accounts for about five percent of ovarian cancer cases. It develops in the connective tissue cells that hold the ovary together and those that produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone. The two most common types are granulosa cell tumors and sertoli-leydig cell tumors. Unlike epithelial ovarian carcinoma, 70 percent of stromal carcinoma cases are diagnosed in Stage I.

Small cell carcinoma of the ovary – Small cell carcinoma of the ovary (SCCO) is a rare, highly malignant tumor that affects mainly young women, with a median age at diagnosis of 24 years old. The subtypes of SCCO include pulmonary, neuro-endocrine and hypercalcemic. SCCO accounts for 0.1 percent of ovarian cancer cases. Approximately two-thirds of patients with SCCO have hypercalcemia. The symptoms are the same as other types of ovarian cancer.

Source: Ovarian Cancer Research Fund Alliance

For more specific information about the different types of ovarian cancer, see:
The American Cancer Society’s detailed guide: click here
Ovarian Cancer Research UK: click here

What are the Stages of Ovarian Cancer?

The stages of ovarian cancer are determined by how far the cancer has spread. The stage of ovarian cancer at diagnosis is the most important indicator of prognosis.

The Stages Of Ovarian Cancer
From: International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) Ovarian Cancer Staging - Effective January 1, 2014

Stage I
Tumor confined to ovaries.
Stage IA
Tumor limited to 1 ovary, capsule intact, no tumor on surface, negative washings.
Stage IB
Tumor involves both ovaries otherwise like IA.
Stage IC
The tumor is limited to one or both ovaries: IC1 - Surgical spill; IC2 - Capsule rupture before surgery or tumor on ovarian surface; IC3 - Malignant cells in the ascites or peritoneal washings.

Stage II
Tumor involves 1 or both ovaries with pelvic extension (below pelvic brim) or primary peritoneal cancer.
Stage IIA
Extension and/or implant on uterus and/or Fallopian tubes.
Stage IIB
Extension to other pelvic intraperitoneal tissues.

Stage III
Tumor involves 1 or both ovaries with cytologically or histologically confirmed spread to the peritoneum outside the pelvis and/or metastasis to the retroperitoneal lymph nodes.
Stage IIIA
Positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes and/or microscopic metastasis beyond the pelvis.
Stage IIIA1
Positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes only.
Stage IIIA2
Microscopic, extrapelvic (above the brim) peritoneal involvement ± positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes.
Stage IIIB
Macroscopic, extrapelvic, peritoneal metastasis (
Stage IIIC
Macroscopic, extrapelvic, peritoneal metastasis (>) greater than 2 cm ± positive retroperitoneal lymph nodes. Includes extension to capsule of liver/spleen.

Stage IV
Distant metastasis excluding peritoneal metastasis.
Stage IVA
Pleural effusion with positive cytology.
Stage IVB
Hepatic and/or splenic parenchymal metastasis, metastasis to extra-abdominal organs (including inguinal lymph nodes and lymph nodes outside of the abdominal cavity).
Other major recommendations are as follows:
    •Histologic type including grading should be designated at staging.
    •Primary site (ovary, Fallopian tube or peritoneum) should be designated where possible.
    •Tumors that may otherwise qualify for stage I but involved with dense adhesions justify upgrading to stage II if tumor cells are histologically proven to be present in the adhesions.”

Source:  International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO)
Ovarian Cancer Staging - Effective January 1, 2014

Recurrent ovarian cancer
This means that the disease went away with treatment but then came back (recurred).

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