10 Cancer Screening Tests Women Need to Know About

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Ovarian Cancer Screening

What the tests are: The USPSTF recommends against routine screening for ovarian cancer by ultrasound or by blood tests because these have not proved effective over the years. They do recommend testing if you have symptoms of ovarian cancer, a family history of ovarian cancer, or BRCA gene mutations that can put you at higher risk for ovarian cancer.

Signs of ovarian cancer to watch for are: persistent daily bloating, an urgent need to urinate, and pelvic pain that is unusual for you — symptoms that won’t let up for several weeks. Your gynecologist can rule out or detect ovarian cancer with an X-ray image called a computed tomography, or CT scan, or use MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) to look for any unusual lumps or tumors.

Why you should ask about genetic testing for ovarian cancer: In 2014, about 21,980 U.S. women, most over age 60, will find out that they have ovarian cancer. And 14,270 will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. While only 1.4 percent of women overall will ever develop ovarian cancer, the rate is as high 39 percent if you have certain BRCA gene mutations. One benefit of testing for those who have the cancer susceptibility BRCA genes is that you can consider preventive steps, such as having your ovaries and fallopian tubes removed, to lower your risk of dying from this cancer by up to 80 percent.

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