Risk Factors and Warning Signs


Ovarian Cancer

Did you know?

  • Ovarian cancer can occur at any age
  • Pap tests DO NOT screen for ovarian cancer
  • When detected early and treated properly, more than 95 percent of women survive ovarian cancer for more than five years
  • Maternal or paternal family history of ovarian cancer can be a major risk factor for the disease

What you should look for:

  • Bloating, nausea or indigestion
  • Abdominal or lower back pain
  • A change in your usual bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea
  • An early feeling of fullness when eating
  • Increased size of abdomen and/or tightness of your clothes
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Irregular or abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Postmenopausal vaginal bleeding
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain

If any of these symptoms last more than two to three weeks, visit your healthcare professional for a pelvic and rectal exam, and possibly a transvaginal ultrasound and CA125 blood test.

Please click here to connect to the Cedars-Sinai ovarian cancer web page.


Breast Cancer

Did you know?

  • Simply being a woman is a major risk factor for developing breast cancer
  • One in eight women in the United States will get breast cancer in her lifetime
  • Maternal or paternal family history of breast cancer can be a major risk factor for the disease
  • If you are over age 40, have a mammogram each year
  • From age 20, women should do a monthly self breast exam immediately following a menstrual period
  • Postmenopausal women should perform a self breast exam at the same time each month

What you should look for:

  • A painless lump or thickening in the breast, often found in the upper, outer quadrant of the breast or in the underarm area
  • Bleeding or discharge from the nipple
  • Thickening or puckering of the skin over the breast

If any of these symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

Please click here to connect to the Cedars-Sinai breast cancer web page. 


Cervical Cancer

Did you know?

  • A pap smear is the best way to screen for early cervical cancer
  • Cervical cancer is very curable if caught early
  • There is a vaccine that can effectively prevent cervical cancer and is recommended for girls age 9-26
  • Risk factors include cigarette smoking, early age of first intercourse, HPV infection (genital warts) and multiple sex partners

What you should look for:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding or discharge
  • Low back pain
  • Blood in your urine
  • Pelvic pain
  • Swelling in one leg
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain

If any of these symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

For more information about the cervical cancer vaccine, call 1-800-CEDARS-1.

Please click here to connect to the Cedars-Sinai cervical cancer web page. 


Uterine Cancer

Did you know?

  • Uterine cancer is the most common gynecologic cancer and is very curable if caught early
  • A woman's risk for uterine cancer increases after age 40
  • Diabetes increases your risk for uterine cancer
  • Other risk factors include infertility, late menopause, never having children, obesity, estrogen replacement therapy (without progestins) and Tamoxifen® use.
  • There is no routine screening test for uterine cancer
  • A biopsy of the lining of the uterus to determine if uterine cancer is present can be done in the gynecologist's office
  • Transvaginal ultrasound may also be helpful in detecting abnormalities of the uterine lining in high-risk women

What you should look for:

  • Abnormal bloating
  • Abnormal spotting or vaginal discharge
  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding (between menstrual periods or after menopause)
  • Pelvic fullness or cramping
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain

If any of these symptoms persist, see your healthcare professional.

Please click here to connect to the Cedars-Sinai uterine cancer web page.


Screening Tests

While no test is perfect, and any test must be evaluated by a healthcare professional, some tests that are helpful in the screening and assessment of women's cancers include:

  • CA-125 (ovarian cancer) - A blood test that measures the level of a specific protein that often increases when cancer is present. Not currently recommended as a general screening test for ovarian cancer.
  • Dilation and Curettage (uterine cancer) - A procedure that scrapes the lining of the uterus (the endometrium) to see if there are cancer cells or other abnormalities
  • Transvaginal ultrasound (ovarian and uterine cancer) - A test in which sound waves create an image of a woman's pelvic organs to see if there is a tumor or other abnormal growth
  • Pap smear (cervical cancer) - An examination of cells that have been swabbed from the cervix to detect any abnormalities
  • Surgical biopsy (all women's cancers) - Removal of a piece of tissue to see if there is cancer or precancer present
  • Mammography (breast cancer) - An X-ray image of the breast that is very useful in detecting early tumors

Resources

For more information, physician referrals or to seek a second opinion, please call 1-800-CEDARS-1.

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