There are currently two options to reduce your risk for ovarian cancer which you may wish to discuss with your doctor:
• Birth control pill: Oral contraceptives have been shown to reduce the risk for ovarian cancer by up to 30-60%.
• Preventive surgery to remove the ovaries and fallopian tubes may be considered if genetic testing indicates an increased risk of ovarian cancer.
For post-menopausal women, this surgery can reduce the risk of ovarian and related cancers by 85-90%.
For premenopausal women, removal of the ovaries and fallopian tubes can also reduce the risk of breast cancer by 40-70%.
Research has shown that the most common and most serious form of ovarian cancer actually starts in the fallopian tubes. Any woman seeking gynecologic surgery may wish to discuss having her fallopian tubes removed at that time.
Maintaining a healthy body weight may also reduce risk.
It is important to consider the range of risks and benefits when making these important decisions. Your doctor should be able to discuss these with you.
There is currently no reliable screening test for ovarian cancer.
If you have signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer, your doctor should perform, or refer you for, a:
• Complete pelvic exam
• Transvaginal or pelvic ultrasound
• CA-125 blood test
These tests are most effective when used in combination. Doctors may also use a CT scan or PET scan as part of the diagnostic process. However, the only definitive way to diagnose ovarian cancer is through a biopsy.