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Ask the Medical Expert Archives 2000-2004

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Ovarian Cancer
March 2003

Q. What is the danger of having ovarian cancer? I recently had a sonogram of my pelvis and the results found small napothian cysts in the lower uterine segment. Should I be concerned?

A. Ovarian cancer is a difficult problem as we do not have methods for screening and early detection. Regular gynecologic check-ups are important but no guarantee of finding ovarian cancer in an early stage. It is estimated that 1-2% of women are at risk for developing this disease.

It occurs most commonly after age 60 but can certainly occur in younger women. There is increased risk if a family member has had ovarian cancer, and increased risk in women who have never been pregnant. Women who have had children or used birth control pills have lower risk.

Cysts are simply fluid accumulations within a wall of cells and are not a sign of cancer. They can come and go on the ovaries with fluctuations of the hormone levels. A cyst may need periodic evaluation by physical exam or a sonogram test, and treatment may be needed if the cyst is growing or causing symptoms such as pain or bleeding. Your doctor will guide you in this matter.



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