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What doctors wish patients knew about ovarian cancer prevention

American Medical Association

November 11, 2022

Sara Berg, MS


What doctors wish patients knew about ovarian cancer prevention


Ovarian cancer affects one or both ovaries. While it is not common, it is the top cause of deaths from any gynecologic cancer in the United States, according to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology. This may be because ovarian cancer often goes undetected until it is in an advanced stage. Occurring most commonly in women between the ages of 50 and 65, what is known about risk factors has not translated into practical ways to prevent ovarian cancer.


Most ovarian cancers develop from epithelial cells, which cover the surface of the ovaries. In fact, about nine in 10 cases involve epithelial tumors. These cells are widespread throughout the body and cover many surfaces, but in the case of ovarian cancer, epithelial cells lining the surface of the ovaries start to grow uncontrollably, invading and damaging other parts of the body.


The AMA’s What Doctors Wish Patients Knew™ series gives physicians a platform to share what they want patients to understand about today’s health care headlines.

For this installment, two physicians took time to discuss what patients need to know about reducing risk of ovarian cancer. These AMA members are:

  • Nariman Heshmati, MD, an ob-gyn at the Everett Clinic in Washington and senior regional medical director for Optum Washington. He is also past chair of the Washington American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Section.

  • Lanny F. Wilson, MD, chair of the Physician Well-Being Program at Advent Health in Hinsdale, Illinois and chair of obstetrics and gynecology at Avalon University School of Medicine in Youngstown, Ohio.

No known ovarian cancer prevention