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"It's important for women to know their risk [of] contracting this deadly disease, and its earliest warning signs," he added.
Some call ovarian cancer a "silent" killer. Its early symptoms are mild and easy to ignore, according to Fishman. They include bloating, indigestion and nausea, pain in the abdomen and back, feeling full quickly, frequent urination, weight gain and shortness of breath. Women who have these symptoms for more than a week should consult a doctor, he suggested.
Ovarian cancer is highly treatable if detected early. If the cancer is just in the ovary (stage 1), the average five-year survival rate is 90 percent. However, the odds of survival are much lower if the cancer is more advanced, Fishman said in a hospital news release.
Women who have had breast cancer or certain other types of cancer are at increased risk. Other ovarian cancer risk factors include certain gene mutations, infertility, early menstruation, obesity and age. Women over age 70 have higher odds of developing the disease, researchers have found.
Some women at high risk have their ovaries and fallopian tubes removed as a precaution, said Fishman, who is also vice chairman of obstetrics and gynecology at the hospital.
For example, actress Angelina Jolie disclosed last year that she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed because she had a significantly increased risk of ovarian cancer due to the BRCA1 gene mutation.
-- Robert Preidt
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