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Ovarian Cancer

Ovarian cancer occurs when abnormal cells divide uncontrollably in a woman’s ovarian tissue. It can affect one or both ovaries, the reproductive glands where eggs develop.

Doctors can often successfully treat ovarian cancer if they detect it early.

Symptoms of ovarian cancer include the following:

  • Abdominal pain or pressure
  • Bloating
  • Gas

Since symptoms often don’t surface until the cancer grows, it’s important to discuss them with your doctor right away.

Ovarian cancer: what you should know

  • If you have a family history of ovarian cancer, you are at risk for developing the disease. Doctors can perform genetic testing, blood tests to help determine if you carry genes associated with ovarian cancer (BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes). Genetic counselors, like those found at Rush, can help guide you through the process.
  • There are two main types: ovarian epithelial carcinoma (starts on the ovary’s surface) and ovarian germ cell tumors (begins in egg cells). 
  • If your ob/gyn or primary care doctor suspects ovarian cancer, he or she may perform a variety of tests. These may include ultrasound and a blood test to check for CA-125. A high level of CA-125 could signify ovarian cancer or another condition.
  • Because ovarian cancer can be treated successfully if caught early, doctors at Rush investigate more effective screening tools.

Care for ovarian cancer at Rush

At Rush, cancer care is tailored to you and the particular disease affecting your body. Your treatment will depend on stage (how far the cancer has spread) and grade (the kind of cancer cells).

To determine this, your doctor will most likely perform a procedure to obtain a tissue sample. Additional tests, such as X-ray or CT, may also be performed.

Once stage and grade have been confirmed, you and your gynecologic oncologist will work with other cancer specialists to develop a treatment plan. This may, either alone or in combinations, include these treatments:

  • Chemotherapy
  • Radiation therapy
  • Surgery (at Rush, doctors often use robotic surgery (da Vinci) to perform gynecological surgeries)

Because gynecologic oncologists at Rush are also researchers, you may be eligible to participate in a clinical trial evaluating a novel treatment.

You can also explore services offered through the Cancer Integrative Medicine Program at Rush. The program offers complementary therapies that can enhance cancer treatments by reducing the mental and physical stresses. The program offers acupuncture, biofeedback, guided imagery, counseling, massage therapy, yoga and more

Why choose Rush for ovarian cancer care

  • The gynecologic cancer program at Rush was among the first in the region to fight cervical cancer with a team approach. Patients see multiple cancer specialists and receive a personalized treatment plan.
  • As a principal member of the National Cancer Institute’s Gynecology Oncology Group, Rush is at the leading edge of gynecologic cancer care and research.
  • The Rush University Cancer Center has been awarded the Outstanding Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer. Rush has received this award, which is given every three years, each time it has been evaluated by the Commission on Cancer.
  • At Rush, you will find genetic counselors who specialize in assessing your genetic risk of ovarian disease through the Rush Inherited Susceptibility to Cancer Program.
  • Researchers at Rush are investigating better screening tools for detecting ovarian cancer in its early stages. They have published numerous articles on the subject in national and international medical journals, including Gynecologic Oncology.

Departments and programs that treat this condition