Each year, 25,000 women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer, the fifth leading cause of cancer death. Although it generally strikes women 60 and older, 10 percent of cases occur in women under 40. Protect yourself now:
- Get tested. There's no one definitive diagnostic screen, so ask for a combo of these three: the CA-125 blood test, the transvaginal ultrasound and a pelvic exam.
- Peel yourself off the couch. Women who spend six hours a day or more sitting during leisure time may be up to 50 percent more likely to develop the disease than those who are more active, reports a National Cancer Institute study.
- Consider popping the pill. Some research suggests that the hormone progestin, found in many oral contraceptives, may slash risk by up to 50 percent when taken for five years or longer.
- Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. Recent research from the Harvard School of Public Health suggests that kaempferol, an antioxidant in broccoli, kale, strawberries and grapefruit, may reduce ovarian cancer risk by as much as 40 percent.
Know the signs. Only 19 percent of cases are detected in the earliest stages. See your doctor if these signs persist longer than two weeks: abdominal pressure or bloating, pelvic pain, an urgent need to urinate, abnormal bleeding, indigestion or diarrhea and unusual fatigue.