Ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment: What’s new

Because its symptoms are often vague, ovarian cancer can be hard to diagnose. And a definitive diagnosis requires a biopsy, which is best done at the time of surgery. But MD Anderson’s Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot™ is focused on finding new ways to detect the disease earlier, when it’s easier to treat. We spoke with Anil Sood, M.D., co-leader of the Ovarian Cancer Moon Shot, to learn about the latest advances in ovarian cancer diagnosis and treatment. Here’s what he shared. Who’s at risk for ovarian cancer?                                                  Trends suggest that women around age 59, who’ve never been pregnant and who have an inflammatory disorder like endometriosis are more likely to develop ovarian cancer. It was once thought that using talc-based products, like baby powder, increased the risk, but studies haven’t shown a direct cause-and-effect relationship. Also, women with a mutation in the BRCA1 or BRCA2 genes are at higher risk. For these women, ovarian cancer is hereditary, so it’s important to undergo genetic testing if your mom, grandmother or aunts have been diagnosed with ovarian or breast cancer before age 40. Women of Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry (Jewish people who originated from Central or Eastern Europe) are more likely to have a BRCA gene mutation, too. Is there anything that lowers a woman’s risk for ovarian cancer? We’re studying ovarian cancer prevention more, but we’ve seen that having a pregnancy, taking the birth control pill and undergoing a tubal ligation (commonly referred to as having your tubes tied) all lower the risk. Patients should talk with their doctor if they’re concerned about their risk. What are common symptoms of ovarian...