The physical symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • abdominal discomfort, pelvic pain, bloating, gas
  • frequent urination
  • vaginal bleeding
  • fatigue
  • back pain
  • nausea, indigestion, loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • change in bowel movements

These symptoms are associated with many health concerns, many of which are not serious. However, any woman who experiences a combination of these symptoms for more than three weeks should contact her family doctor.

Ovarian cancer is associated with the following risk factors:

• a history of ovarian cancer in the immediate family;
• be over 50 years old;
• the fact of not having had a pregnancy (the higher the number of pregnancies, the lower the risk);
• a history of breast cancer;
• race (ovarian cancer strikes 50% more white women than African-American women);
• being of Ashkenazi Jewish descent;

Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer-related death in western women and the second most common gynecological cancer. This grim disease kills some 1,500 Canadian women a year and, unlike other types of cancer, awareness of it is minimal. These gloomy statistics underscore the importance of continuing research into ovarian cancer.