Debunking 4 Common Myths about Ovarian Cancer

Sep 1 • 2015
Debunking 4 Common Myths about Ovarian Cancer

More than 20,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer each year. Tumors on your ovaries are not always cancerous, but the ones that are can spread to other organs in the abdomen and pelvis or travel through the blood stream or lymph nodes to other areas of the body. The exact causes of this type of cancer are unknown and the truth is that many of the common ideas about ovarian cancer are actually myths. We’ve highlighted four of the most popular misconceptions below.

Myth #1: Pap Smears Detect Ovarian Cancer
Many women think that getting a Pap smear will show whether or not they have ovarian cancer. This is incorrect – a Pap smear will only show whether or not there are any precancerous cells in the cervix. There is not currently any kind of ovarian cancer screening program available.

Myth #2: The HPV Vaccine Will Prevent It
The Human Papilloma Virus, or HPV, can cause cancer. However, it is not responsible for ovarian cancer. The HPV vaccine reduces the risk of cervical cancer, vulvar cancer, vaginal cancer, anal cancer, penile cancer and oropharyngeal cancers.

Myth #3: There are No Early Symptoms
Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the “silent killer,” but the majority of women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer do experience early symptoms. It is very important to be aware of these symptoms since there are no screening tests. Signs to look out for include:

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Urinary frequency
  • Urinary urgency
  • Difficulty eating
  • Feeling full quickly
  • Constipation
  • Back pain
  • Fatigue
  • Pain during sex
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Abnormal menstrual cycle

If you notice any of these signs, it is important to speak to your doctor.

Myth #4: Family History is the Only Risk Factor
Oftentimes women believe that if they have no family history of ovarian cancer, they are not at risk. However, some women who are diagnosed with ovarian cancer have not had any family members with this disease in the past. There are additional risk factors to keep in mind, such as:

  • Increased age
  • Obesity
  • Certain hormone treatments
  • Having breast cancer
  • Diets that are high in fat content

If you have questions about how your family medical history impacts your risk, whether you are experiencing symptoms, or what you can do to improve your health, speak with your doctor today.