Join Atrium Health Navicent in Observing Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month

September 20, 2021

Ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women


In observance of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, Atrium Health Navicent encourages women to learn the risk factors and symptoms of ovarian cancer. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer is a disease in which cells in the body grow out of control. When cancer starts in the ovaries, it is called ovarian cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), ovarian cancer ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women. A woman’s risk of getting ovarian cancer during her lifetime is about 1 in 78. The ACS estimates that in 2021, about 21,410 women will receive a new diagnosis of ovarian cancer, resulting in 13,770 deaths. In Georgia, it’s estimated that 650 new cases of ovarian cancer will occur in 2021, resulting in 410 deaths.

It’s important to understand the risk factors for getting ovarian cancer. Women at a higher risk:

  • Are middle-aged or older. About 90 percent of women who get ovarian cancer are over 40.
  • Have close family members (such as a mother, sister, aunt, or grandmother) who have had ovarian cancer.
  • Have a genetic abnormality called BRCA1 or BRCA2, or one associated with Lynch syndrome.
  • Have had breast, uterine, or colon cancer.
  • Have endometriosis, a condition where tissue from the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere in the body.
  • Have never given birth or have had trouble getting pregnant.

Although there are no reliable screening tests for ovarian cancer, annual appointments with your gynecologist can lead to early detection and treatment. It’s important to talk to your doctor if you have one or more of the following:

  • Vaginal bleeding (particularly if you are past menopause), or vaginal discharge that is not normal for you.
  • Pain or pressure in the pelvic area.
  • Abdominal or back pain.
  • Feeling full too quickly, or difficulty eating.
  • A change in your bathroom habits, such as a more frequent need to urinate, or constipation.

“Ovarian cancer is often labeled as the hidden cancer. It is because in the early stages, symptoms may not be obvious. This is why seeing a gynecologist for an annual physical is so important. A thorough history and physical exam, including a pelvic exam and/or rectal exam, can often detect signs of early ovarian cancer. If signs are detected during a physical, additional testing can be ordered. Please, not just for early detection of ovarian cancer, but for overall health and wellness, come see me or any gynecologist of your choosing for your annual physical,” said Dr. Shanna B. Holcomb, an Atrium Health Navicent gynecologist.

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About Atrium Health Navicent

Atrium Health Navicent is the leading provider of healthcare in central and south Georgia and is committed to its mission of elevating health and well-being through compassionate care. Atrium Health Navicent provides high-quality, personalized care in 53 specialties at more than 50 facilities throughout the region. As part of the largest, integrated, nonprofit health system in the Southeast, it is also able to tap into some of the nation’s leading medical experts and specialists with Atrium Health, allowing it to provide the best care close to home – including advanced innovations in virtual medicine and care. Throughout its 125-year history in the community, Atrium Health Navicent has remained dedicated to enhancing health and wellness for individuals throughout the region through nationally recognized quality care, community health initiatives and collaborative partnerships. It is also one of the leading teaching hospitals in the region, helping to ensure viability for rural health care for the next generation. For more information, please visit