Health Library ~ Family Medicine in Mullica Hill, NJ

All material copyright Craig M. Wax, DO unless otherwise denoted.

Early Detection of Ovarian Cancer Can Save Lives


Approximately one in 70 women will develop ovarian cancer, a malignant tumor that develops in the female ovaries.  In addition, it is estimated that ovarian cancer is the fourth leading cause of cancer deaths among women in the United States.  Yet, when found and treated in its early stages, ovarian cancer can be cured in 90 - 95 percent of cases.   With such a high cure rate, why are so many women dying of this disease?


In its early stages, ovarian cancer can be hard to detect, explains Craig M. Wax, D.O., an osteopathic family physician in Mullica Hill, NJ.  Therefore, it is imperative that women learn more about ovarian cancer and its symptoms to prevent the spread of the disease to other parts of the body.


According to Dr. Wax, women who have a family history of the disease; have never been pregnant; and are over the age of 50 are most at risk of developing ovarian cancer.  On the flip side, women who have had children; who breastfeed; or who use oral contraceptives (birth control pills) are less likely to develop ovarian cancer. 


Dr. Wax says that symptoms of ovarian cancer can include:

  • Discomfort in the lower abdomen
  • Swelling or bloating in the lower abdomen
  • Swelling in the legs
  • Feeling full even after a light meal
  • Loss of appetite/ weight loss
  • Gas or indigestion that otherwise cant be explained
  • Nausea
  • Frequent urination
  • Constipation
  • Pain during sexual intercourse


Clearly, many of the symptoms of ovarian cancer can also be associated with other medical conditions, says Dr. Wax.  When a woman is experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, one of the best ways to rule out ovarian cancer is through an pelvic exam.


During the exam, the physician will feel for enlarged ovaries or masses by inserting two gloved fingers into the vagina and simultaneously feeling outside of the abdomen with the other hand.  Enlarged ovaries or masses are often tale-tell signs of cancer.


In addition to an annual pelvic exam, other ways women can lessen their risk of developing ovarian cancer include:

  • Reporting any irregular vaginal bleeding or abdominal pain to your physician.
  • Discussing risk factors with a physician if you have close family member such as your mother, sister or daughter, who have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
  • Abstaining from the use of excessive talcum powder on or near the vagina.
  • Eating a low-fat diet.
  • Don't smoke.


As complete physicians, D.O.s are able to prescribe medication, perform surgery and can be found practicing in all areas of medicine.  D.O.s can also use their hands to help diagnose and treat injury and illness and to encourage the body's natural tendency toward good health through the use of Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment (OMT).

Revised 10/19/03