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Female service members stand on the flightline for Women's History Month at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, March 19, 2021. The service members participated in the Air Force's two-week advanced aerial combat training exercise, Red Flag. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Natalie Rubenak)
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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian Cancer starts in the ovaries or in the fallopian tubes and the peritoneum. The ovaries are located in the pelvis and there’s one ovary on either side of the uterus. Ovaries make female hormones and produce eggs for reproduction. When ovarian cancer is found in its early stages, treatment works best.

Risk Factors

Many women who get ovarian cancer aren’t high risk, but some factors do increase your risk. These include:

  • Being middle-aged or older.
  • Having close family members who had ovarian cancer. This can be on either your mother’s side or your father’s side.
  • Having a known BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation.
  • Having a known gene mutation associated with Lynch syndrome.
  • Having had:
    • Breast cancer.
    • Uterine cancer.
    • Colon cancer.
  • Having an Eastern European or Ashkenazi Jewish background.
  • Having endometriosis.
  • Never giving birth.
  • Having trouble getting pregnant.


You can’t prevent ovarian cancer, but you can lower your change of getting it by:

  • Having routine pelvic exams. This allows for early diagnosis.
  • Using birth control pills for five or more years.
  • Having:
    • A tubal sterilization.
    • Both ovaries removed.
    • A hysterectomy.
  • Giving birth.
  • Breastfeeding.

Signs & Symptoms

Ovarian cancer signs and symptoms include:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge.
  • Pain or pressure in your pelvic area.
  • Abdominal or back pain.
  • Bloating.
  • Feeling full too quickly or difficulty eating.
  • Changes in your bathroom habits such as more frequent or urgent urination and/or constipation.

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Last Updated: August 08, 2023
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