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Female patient talking with her gynecologist

What is ovarian cancer?

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that forms in the ovaries—the female reproductive organs that produce eggs. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women, with over 21,000 new cases in the United States each year.

What causes ovarian cancer?

Understanding the risk factors associated with ovarian cancer is crucial in identifying individuals who may be at higher risk for developing the disease. Once you know your risk, you can discuss different preventive measures with your primary care provider.

  • Family history of ovarian, breast, or colon cancer
  • Age over 50
  • Inherited genetic mutations (such as BRCA1 or BRCA2)
  • Personal history of breast, uterine, or colorectal cancer
  • Infertility or never having given birth
  • Endometriosis
  • Obesity


The symptoms of ovarian cancer are often vague and can be easily attributed to other medical conditions, making it challenging to diagnose the disease in its early stages. Be aware of the following symptoms:

  • Bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain, or discomfort
  • Feeling full quickly while eating
  • Urinary urgency or frequency
  • Changes in bowel habits
  • Fatigue
  • Unexplained weight loss or gain
  • Menstrual irregularities


Ovarian cancer screenings and diagnosis

While there are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer, women at high risk may consider genetic testing, a transvaginal ultrasound, or CA-125 blood tests. However, it's important to discuss the risks and benefits of screening with a primary care provider.

Ovarian cancer treatment and surgery

The most common treatment for ovarian cancer is surgery, which involves removing as much of the cancer as possible. Depending on the extent of the cancer, this may involve removing one or both ovaries, the fallopian tubes, and the uterus. Chemotherapy is often used after surgery to combat any remaining cancer cells. Radiation therapy may be used in some cases. Treatment may be different for women with early-stage versus advanced-stage ovarian cancer.

Knowing the risk factors and symptoms, and discussing screening options with a primary care provider, can help improve the chances of early detection and successful treatment. If you or someone you know has recently received a diagnosis, our expert team of oncologists at St. Luke’s Health will work with you to develop a personalized treatment plan that meets your needs.

Cervical cancer is a type of cancer that develops in the cervix, which is the lower part of the uterus. It often develops slowly and may not show any symptoms in its early stages. However, if left untreated, it can spread to other parts of the body.

Cervical cancer risk factors

Several factors can increase the risk of developing cervical cancer. Some of the most common ones are:

  • HPV infection
  • Having the first full-term pregnancy before the age of 17
  • Having three or more full-term pregnancies
  • Long-term use of birth control pills
  • Smoking
  • Weak immune system
  • Family history

Cervical cancer symptoms

In the early stages, cervical cancer may not cause any symptoms. However, as the cancer grows and spreads, the following symptoms may occur:

  • Abnormal vaginal bleeding, such as bleeding between periods, after sex, or after menopause
  • Pain during sex
  • Unusual vaginal discharge
  • Pelvic pain
  • Periods that are longer or heavier than normal

Cervical cancer screenings and diagnosis

Regular screening is crucial for detecting cervical cancer early, when it is most treatable. The following screening options are available:

Cervical cancer treatment

The treatment for cervical cancer depends on several factors, including the stage of the cancer, the woman's age and overall health, and whether she wants to have children in the future. Your oncologist may recommend one or more of the following treatment options:

  • Surgery
  • Radiation therapy
  • Chemotherapy

If you or a loved one has concerns about cervical cancer, speak with an oncologist for more information. Our team of oncologists at St. Luke’s Health is trained to diagnose and treat cervical cancer and can provide you with personalized recommendations. Speak with your primary care provider about any questions or concerns you may have about cervical cancer, as early detection and treatment can greatly improve your chances of recovery.

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U.S. News & World Report

Home of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center, one of only three NCI-Designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers in Texas, U.S. News & World Report has accredited Baylor St. Luke's Medical Center as one of the best hospitals for several specialties, including previous accreditation for compassionate patient-centered cancer care.