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Ovarian Cancer Symptoms and Treatment

in NJ, CT, and MD

Being informed about ovarian cancer and knowing its signs and symptoms can aid in the early detection of the disease and help prevent its spread. There are different types of ovarian cancer, and the oncologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA) employ the latest therapies and technology to treat patients with all types and all stages of ovarian cancer.

With community-based offices throughout New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area, Regional Cancer Care Associates provides world-class care for cancer and hematology conditions close to home.

What Are Ovarian Cancer Symptoms?

Ovaries are the reproductive glands that produce eggs in females. Located on either side of the uterus, the ovaries also produce the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.

Ovarian cancer occurs when cells within the ovary mutate and begin to grow in an accelerated, uncontrolled manner. It is the most fatal form of gynecologic cancer. Ovarian cancer can arise in three different kinds of cells within the ovaries. They are:

  • Germ cells: These are the egg-producing cells of the ovaries.
  • Stromal cells: These are the ovarian cells that produce estrogen and progesterone.
  • Epithelial cells: These are the cells that cover the outer surface of the ovaries. Epithelial cell cancer is the most common type of ovarian cancer. It is also the fastest-growing type of ovarian cancer.
Doctor going over pelvis x-ray on computer with female patient

While ovarian cancer is categorized into different types, the signs and symptoms of the disease are generally the same regardless of type. Those symptoms include:

  • Irregular vaginal bleeding or vaginal discharge, especially during the postmenopausal years
  • Pressure or discomfort in the pelvic region
  • Abdominal bloating or irritable bowel syndrome
  • Continual back pain or pressure
  • Always feeling full, experiencing a loss of appetite, or having difficulty eating small meals or portions
  • Difficult bowel movements (constipation)
  • Frequent or urgent need to urinate

A critical component of detecting ovarian cancer is knowing the body’s baseline. If any of these symptoms occur, persist, or increase in frequency or severity, it is important to see a doctor. Although these symptoms may be caused by as condition other than ovarian cancer or another type of cancers, a medical examination will help to rule out cancer and identify the cause of the problem.

Risk Factors for Ovarian Cancer

Some people are at greater risk for developing ovarian cancer than others. For instance, most women diagnosed with common forms of the cancer are middle-aged or older. The chances that a woman will develop ovarian cancer increase if close family members, such as her mother, sisters, aunts, or grandmothers, were diagnosed with the condition. Other risk factors include:


About 10% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer carry the breast cancer 1 (BRCA1) or breast cancer 2 (BRCA2) gene. Also, having Lynch Syndrome or Peutz-Jeghers Syndrome can increase the chance of developing ovarian cancer or other forms of digestive and reproductive organ cancers.

Additionally, those of Eastern European or Ashkenazi Jewish descent tend to be diagnosed with the disease more often than others.

Previous Cancers and Endometriosis

Women who have been diagnosed with uterine, breast, or colon cancer also tend to experience a higher incidence of ovarian cancer. Women with endometriosis, a painful condition in which uterine tissue grows elsewhere within the body, also have an increased risk of contracting ovarian cancer.

Ovarian Cancer Staging and Detection

As with other cancers, early detection and treatment of ovarian cancer result in better outcomes and higher survival rates than cancer identified after it has spread locally or to distant organs. While researchers and clinicians are working to enhance early-detection methods, current approaches to identifying ovarian cancer and determining its extent and course include:

Pelvic Exams

During a gynecologic exam, the doctor examines the size and shape of the ovaries. Any abnormalities should be further assessed during a follow-up appointment. Pap smears and human papillomavirus (HPV) tests, which are useful in detecting cervical cancer, cannot detect ovarian cancer.

Transvaginal Ultrasound (TVUS)

With this technology, a slim, wand-like transducer inserted into the vagina emits sound waves that travel across the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries to generate images that can identify the presence of a tumor or mass.

CA-125 Blood Test 

This test determines the amount of the CA-125 protein in the bloodstream. Tracking levels of the protein can be helpful because levels are elevated in many women with ovarian cancer. However, higher-than-normal levels also are found in many women with endometriosis, limiting the diagnostic value of the test. Many physicians rely on CA-125 for monitoring the status of already diagnosed ovarian cancer rather than for identifying the presence of the disease initially.

Ovarian Cancer Treatment

There are several options for treating ovarian cancer, with many women treated with a combination of those approaches. The medical oncologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates carefully evaluate each patient and the type, stage, and genetic characteristics of her ovarian cancer to develop an individualized treatment plan, which may include:

  • Surgery to remove the tumor;
  • Immunotherapy, which harnesses the power of the body’s own immune system to fight cancer;
  • Oral or intravenous chemotherapy drugs, which kill cancer cells;
  • Radiation therapy, which uses energy beams or particles to destroy malignant cells; and,
  • Targeted therapy drugs, which act against cancer cells with specific genetic characteristics while not affecting healthy cells.

The oncologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates have extensive experience in treating ovarian cancer and other gynecologic malignancies.

Be Informed About Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

The compassionate oncologists of Regional Cancer Care Associates treat many kinds of blood disorders and cancers, including ovarian cancer. Patients who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer may receive comprehensive care at one of 25 Regional Cancer Care Associates locations across New Jersey, Connecticut, Maryland, and the Washington, D.C., area. Visit one of these locations to learn more about ovarian cancer symptoms or to request an appointment.

Regional Cancer Care Associates — Cancer care you can trust

At Regional Cancer Care Associates (RCCA), we feature the best of modern oncologic medicine. We meet the highest standard of cancer care in both quality and safety. At the same time, we lead with our hearts, offering an environment characterized by compassion. We focus on you, individually, and work with you and your family to ensure your care is second to none.

For more information, please call (844) 346-7222. You can schedule an appointment by calling the RCCA location nearest you.

View All Cancer Trials

When standard cancer treatments aren’t providing the results you want, clinical trials may offer hope. Our physicians use clinical trials to study new treatments, helping transform cancer care for the better. You can enroll in a clinical trial to try groundbreaking treatment plans at zero cost to you.

Regional Cancer Care Associates is one of fewer than 200 medical practices in the country selected to participate in the Oncology Care Model (OCM); a recent Medicare initiative aimed at improving care coordination and access to and quality of care for Medicare beneficiaries undergoing chemotherapy treatment.