Regular screenings aren't the only way to protect against ovarian cancer. A recent National Cancer Institute study found that giving women an ultrasound and blood test to check for the disease didn't help catch it in its early, most treatable stages. What's more, these tests led to many unnecessary surgeries and complications. So what can you do?
1. Get an annual ob/gyn checkup. Besides examining you, your doctor should ask about your medical history. If it turns out you're high-risk (you have a family history of breast cancer or carry a BRCA gene mutation, for example), then you should consider getting an ultrasound and blood test. The benefits outweigh the downsides in your case, says study author Patricia Hartge, ScD.Find out what your ob/gyn wants to tell you.
2. Pay attention to your body. Symptoms of ovarian cancer often mimic stomach problems, but if you're having lower abdominal/pelvic pain or frequently feel full and/or bloated even when you haven't eaten for a while, call your doc so she can check to see whether it's serious, says Rebecca Brightman, MD, clinical instructor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.
3. Consider birth control pills. Taking oral contraceptives for five years or more could lower your risk. "The Pill stops ovulation, and we think that the more you ovulate over your lifetime, the higher your risk of ovarian cancer," says Dr. Brightman.Photo: © Getty Images
Article originally appeared on WomansDay.com.
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