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Myths & Facts about Ovarian Cancer: Unravelling the Truth

Ovarian cancer, often termed the "silent killer," is a topic shrouded in a myriad of misconceptions and fears. With symptoms that are easily mistaken for less severe illnesses, it's crucial to separate fact from fiction.


Myth 1: Ovarian Cancer Only Affects Older Women

Fact: While it’s true that ovarian cancer is most common in women aged 50 to 60, it can affect women of all ages, including those in their 20s and 30s. Factors such as genetic predisposition and family history can play a significant role in the risk of developing the disease. It's important for all women, regardless of age, to be aware of their body and any changes they experience.

Myth 2: Ovarian Cancer Has No Symptoms

Fact: Ovarian cancer does have symptoms, but they are often vague and easily confused with symptoms of other less severe conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or premenstrual syndrome (PMS). Common symptoms include bloating, pelvic or abdominal pain, difficulty eating, or feeling full quickly and urinary symptoms. Awareness and early detection can significantly impact the effectiveness of treatment, so it's vital to listen to your body and consult a healthcare provider if you experience persistent symptoms.

Myth 3: A Pap Smear Test Can Detect Ovarian Cancer

Fact: A common misconception is that a Pap smear, a screening test for cervical cancer, can also detect ovarian cancer. However, there is no routine screening test for ovarian cancer. The Pap smear does not check for ovarian cancer; it screens for cervical cancer. Women should discuss their risk factors with their healthcare provider to determine the best approach to monitoring their gynecological health.

Myth 4: Ovarian Cancer is Always Fatal

Fact: Although ovarian cancer has a reputation for being deadly, early detection significantly improves survival rates. When diagnosed and treated in its early stages, the 5-year survival rate for ovarian cancer can be as high as 93%. The challenge lies in detecting the cancer early due to the subtleness of the symptoms, highlighting the importance of understanding and recognizing potential warning signs.

Myth 5: Removing Your Ovaries Guarantees You Won't Get Ovarian Cancer

Fact: While removing your ovaries significantly reduces the risk of developing ovarian cancer, it does not offer a 100% guarantee. There is still a rare chance of developing what is known as "primary peritoneal cancer," which acts very similarly to ovarian cancer. This option should be carefully considered and discussed with a healthcare professional, especially for those with a BRCA gene mutation, which increases the risk.

Myth 6: Only Women with a Family History of Ovarian Cancer Are at Risk

Fact: While having a family history of ovarian cancer increases your risk, the majority of ovarian cancer cases occur in women without a known family history. Other risk factors include age, endometriosis, and certain genetic mutations (BRCA1 and BRCA2). All women should be vigilant about their reproductive health and discuss their risk with a healthcare provider.


Ovarian cancer, with its complexities and challenges, requires increased public awareness and education. By debunking these myths and spreading factual information, we can empower women to take charge of their health, advocate for themselves, and ultimately improve outcomes for those affected by this disease. For comprehensive ovarian cancer treatment in India, American Oncology Institute is recognized as the top multi-disciplinary oncology hospital known for its expertise and advanced care.