Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer: Why it Matters and How to Do It

 Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer: Why it Matters and How to Do It


Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women in the United States, with an estimated 21,750 new cases and 13,940 deaths in 2020 alone. One of the biggest challenges in treating ovarian cancer is that it often goes undetected until it has spread to other parts of the body, making it more difficult to treat. However, with early detection, the survival rate can be as high as 90 percent. This article will discuss the importance of early detection, the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, and the best ways to detect it early.

Why Early Detection Matters

Early detection of ovarian cancer is critical for two main reasons: survival rates and treatment options. When ovarian cancer is caught early, the five-year survival rate is over 90 percent. However, when the cancer is detected at a later stage, the survival rate drops to around 30 percent. Furthermore, early detection allows for more treatment options, such as surgery to remove the thncer, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Early detection can also reduce the amount of treatment needed, as well as the side effects of treatment.

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Unfortunately, ovarian cancer often has no symptoms until it has progressed to a later stage. However, there are some signs and symptoms to be aware of that may indicate ovarian cancer. These include:

  • Abdominal bloating or swelling
  • Feeling full quickly or difficulty eating
  • Pelvic pain or pressure
  • Back pain
  • Urinary urgency or frequency

It's important to note that these symptoms can be caused by other conditions as well, so it's important to talk to a healthcare provider if you experience any of them.

Best Ways to Detect Ovarian Cancer Early

There are several methods for detecting ovarian cancer early, including:

Pelvic Exam: A pelvic exam involves a healthcare provider feeling for any abnormalities in the ovaries, uterus, or cervix. While this exam can detect some ovarian cancers, it's not very effective in detecting early-stage cancers.

Transvaginal Ultrasound: This test involves inserting an ultrasound wand into the vagina to get a better view of the ovaries. While this test can detect ovarian cancer, it's not very effective in detecting early-stage cancers.

CA-125 Blood Test: The CA-125 blood test measures the level of a protein called CA-125 in the blood. High levels of CA-125 can be a sign of ovarian cancer. While this test can be helpful help monitoring ovarian cancer treatment, it's not very effective in detecting early-stage cancers.

Ovarian Cancer Screening: Ovarian cancer screening involves a combination of the pelvic exam, transvaginal ultrasound, and CA-125 blood test. While this screening method has been used in the past, it's not currently recommended by most healthcare organizations because it's not very effective in detecting early-stage cancers and can lead to false positives.

Genetic Testing: Some women may be at higher risk for ovarian cancer due to inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2. Genetic testing can determine if a woman has these mutations and may benefit from earlier and more frequent screenings or prophylactic surgery to reduce the risk of developing ovarian cancer.

 Expert Opinion:

According to Dr. Jennifer L. Marti, a gynecologic oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, "The key to early detection of ovarian cancer is to be aware of your body and to listen to your symptoms. If something feels off or if you experience persistent symptoms, talk to your doctor. Don't be afraid to advocate for yourself and ask for further testing."

Industry Statistics:

According to the American Cancer Society, about 21,750 women in the United States will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2022, and about 13,940 women will die from the disease. The five-year survival rate for ovarian cancer is only 47%, but this rate increases to 92% if the cancer is detected at an early stage.


Early detection is crucial for improving the chances of survival in women with ovarian cancer. While there is no single test that can reliably detect ovarian cancer, a combination of symptoms, physical exams, blood tests, and imaging tests can help detect the disease in its early stages.

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