While epithelial ovarian cancer has been called “the silent disease” for its lack of symptoms, more recent evidence indicates that several signs may develop which could suggest the disease is present. A national consensus statement of ovarian cancer symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms, such as urgency or frequency
These symptoms are more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than in the general population, and are persistent and progressive over a short period of time. Importantly, they typically represent a change from normal. Development of these symptoms should prompt women to see a qualified health care provider and undergo evaluation for a potential ovarian cancer.
Several risk factors are known to increase the likelihood for ovarian cancer development. These include:
- Genetic predisposition through deleterious gene mutations
- Family history of breast and/or ovarian cancer, especially in a mother, daughter, or sister
- Age over 55 years
- Never having had children
Other studies have suggested weak correlations between increased risk of ovarian cancer and such factors as use of hormone therapy, obesity, and/or a diagnosis of infertility; it remains unclear whether these are indeed true risk factors.