Learn more about the four warning signs of ovarian cancer during National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112

LANSING, Mich. – As part of National Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) is urging Michigan women to learn more about the four symptoms that often occur with this type of cancer.

Studies have shown that ovarian cancer symptoms are subtle and often missed or mistaken for other issues. Four symptoms have been proven to occur more often in women with ovarian cancer as compared to the general public:

  • Bloating.

  • Pelvic and abdominal pain.

  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly.

  • Urinary issues including changes in frequency or urgency.

If any of these symptoms are new and unusual and occur at least 12 times in one month, the woman should see a doctor – preferably a gynecologist.

Due to the lack of an early detection test, only 15 to 20 percent of ovarian cancer cases are detected early. In 2018 in the United States, it is estimated there will be 22,240 new cases of ovarian cancer and 14,070 women will die from the disease. In Michigan, it is estimated there will be 750 cases and 500 women will die from ovarian cancer this year.

“There is no screening test for ovarian cancer,” said Dr. Eden Wells, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Symptom awareness can be lifesaving. Women need to know their bodies and know the symptoms of this deadly disease.”

Factors which may increase the risk of ovarian cancer include:

  • Personal or family history of ovarian, breast, uterine or colorectal cancer. Approximately 20 percent of ovarian cancer is hereditary. Any female who has been diagnosed with a form of ovarian cancer should be referred to a genetic counselor.

  • Increased number of menstrual cycles in a lifetime (never had children, late menopause, etc.)

  • Infertility, regardless of whether fertility drugs were used.

  • Use of Hormone Replacement Therapy.

  • Increasing Age (Note: ovarian cancer affects all ages and all ethnic groups.)

  • Obesity.

Factors which may decrease the risk of ovarian cancer include: oral contraceptive use, removal of fallopian tubes and/or ovaries and breastfeeding.

For more information, visit the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition website at Ovarian.org.

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