If you've been diagnosed with ovarian cancer, you may be worried about what lies ahead. Our nationally recognized gynecologic oncologists will help put your mind at ease.
Ovarian cancer occurs when cancer cells form within the ovaries (the female reproductive organs that produce eggs). Our team specializes in ovarian cancer research and treatment.
The exact causes of ovarian cancer are unknown. However, certain risk factors can make some women more likely to develop cancer. These factors include:
- BRCA gene mutations: Women with an inherited genetic mutation of the BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene have a 20 to 25 percent greater chance of developing ovarian cancer.
- Family history: Women with a close female relative (mother, grandmother or sister) with ovarian cancer are more likely to be diagnosed themselves, even without a genetic mutation.
- Age: Ovarian cancer rates are highest in women between ages 55 and 64.
- History of endometriosis or other cancers: Women who have had breast, uterine, colon or rectal cancer have a greater risk of developing ovarian cancer. And women with endometriosis have double the possibility of an ovarian cancer diagnosis than the general public.
- Obesity: Research suggests a link between obesity (having a BMI of 30 or more) and ovarian cancer.
- Hormone therapy: Women who have been using hormone therapy long term (over five years) may have a greater chance of ovarian cancer.
- Reproductive experience: Women who have never had children or who had their first child after age 30 have a higher likelihood of developing ovarian cancer. Women may also have an increased risk if they:
- Started menstruating before age 12
- Began menopause after age 50
- Have never taken oral contraceptives
- Have experienced infertility
If you experience any of these symptoms more than 12 times in one month or if they are new or unusual for you, it’s important to see a qualified physician, preferably a gynecologist, as soon as possible. Symptoms of ovarian cancer include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Difficulty eating or early feeling of fullness
- Pelvic or lower abdominal pain
- Urgent need to urinate or need to urinate frequently
Most women come to us after they've received a cancer diagnosis. We may conduct more tests to understand your unique situation and plan your treatment.
We use diagnostic tests to understand how advanced the cancer is and where it is located, including:
- Blood tests: We may take a sample of your blood to check for specific proteins, like CA-125 or HE4, that can signify ovarian cancer.
- CT scan: A technician takes multiple X-rays of your abdomen. Then a computer combines them to form one 3D picture that will show any abnormalities or tumors.
- Transvaginal ultrasound: We insert into the vagina a lubricated probe that sends high-frequency sound waves through the uterus and ovaries to create images. Women who have this test may also have a pelvic ultrasound, in which a technician passes the transducer over the lower abdomen. Combined, these tests allow us to see the entire reproductive system.
Our expert team will work to understand every aspect of your condition and create a customized plan tailored to your specific needs. Ovarian cancer treatments may include surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy and clinical trials. Depending on your unique situation, we may use one approach or a combination of these treatments:
- Surgery: The first step in ovarian cancer treatment is usually surgery to remove as much of the tumor or as many cancer cells as possible.
- Targeted therapy: Like chemotherapy, these cancer-fighting drugs slow or stop the growth of cancer. However, targeted therapy often has fewer side effects.
- Clinical trial: Patients who are not eligible for standard clinical trials may be able to participate in the Cedars-Sinai Experimental Therapeutics Program. Learn more about our clinical trials.
- Chemotherapy: We use the most innovative chemotherapy available and work with you to manage any side effects.
- Radiation therapy: The specialists at the Cedars-Sinai Radiation Oncology Department use advanced computer software and imaging to target the radiation beams directly at the tumor, minimizing exposure to healthy tissue.
You'll have access to a wide range of services through the Women's Cancer Program:
- Palliative care services: The Cedars-Sinai Supportive Care Medicine Program will help you maintain the best possible quality of life during treatment.
- Oncofertility services: Treatment for ovarian cancer may make it difficult to conceive in the future. Our doctors collaborate closely with the specialists at the Cedars-Sinai Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center to give you as many options as possible, including freezing your eggs.
- Recovery assistance: For women who are in remission or are recovering from ovarian cancer, the Cedars-Sinai Survivorship Program includes fitness classes, educational programs and nutrition counseling.
Why Choose Cedars-Sinai for Ovarian Cancer Care?
Women come to the Cedars-Sinai Women's Cancer Program for the treatment expertise of doctors who participate in prominent research. You'll have access to:
- Renowned doctors: The program’s board-certified doctors serve in leadership roles with national organizations and lead international research focused on improving our understanding and treatment of ovarian cancer. More than 80 percent of our patients with ovarian cancer go into remission.
- Collaborative care: Our oncologists hold weekly conferences and preoperative meetings to discuss patient cases and establish the most effective treatment plan, tailored to your individual needs. We work closely with doctors at the Cedars-Sinai Breast Cancer Program to care for women with ovarian cancer who have a higher risk of breast cancer. We also work with the specialists at the Cedars-Sinai Fertility and Reproductive Medicine Center to review your options for having a child after cancer treatment.
- Advanced treatment options: We always choose the least invasive treatment possible, so you can recover faster.
- Clinical trials: We have a wide variety of clinical trials going on at all times, and our active research on ovarian cancer helps us find new treatment options. You may be able to take advantage of new drugs or treatments before they are widely available.
- Support services: You can receive comfort and assistance through Cedars-Sinai Supportive Care Services to help you in your recovery.
Give us a call and we will help you find the right care as soon as possible.