Risk Factors and Screenings

Other than a physician exam, the only routine screening test for gynecologic cancer is the PAP test, which screens for cervical cancer. Therefore, it is important to be aware of warning symptoms for gynecologic cancer and, if you experience any, to report them immediately to your healthcare provider.

Symptoms include: 

  • Abdominal bloating
  • Pelvic or abdominal pain
  • Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
  • Changes in bowel and bladder patterns that continue and/or worsen
  • Uterine bleeding
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Sores, lumps, ulcers or other physical changes to the vagina or vulva

Increased Risk Due to Family History

Approximately 10 - 20% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have an inherited risk (cancer that runs in the family). Factors that put a woman at higher risk for ovarian cancer include:

  • A family history of breast or ovarian cancer (in first degree relative, including mother, sister, or daughter)
  • A personal history of breast cancer
  • Two or more close relatives with breast cancer prior to age 50 or with ovarian cancer diagnosed at any age
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and a personal history of breast cancer prior to age 50
  • Ashkenazi Jewish heritage and a first- or second-degree relative with breast cancer prior to age 50 or with ovarian cancer at any age

If you fit these criteria, contact genetic counseling and testing through our Hereditary Cancer Program. Our genetic counselors will meet with you to review your history and discuss your risk.

Increased Risk Due to Genetic Mutations

Mutations in either the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes increase ovarian cancer risk 10  -45%. Women with Lynch Syndrome also have an increased risk (13%) of ovarian cancer and (60%) of uterine cancers. If you have an identified genetic mutation, it is very important to discuss your screening schedule with your doctor.