Actress Bridgette Wilson-Sampras has had ovarian cancer for nearly a year, her husband, world tennis star Pete Sampras announced via a statement shared on X (formerly Twitter).

“As most have come to know, I am a pretty quiet and private person,” he wrote. “However, this past year has been an exceptionally challenging time for my family, and I have decided to share what’s been going on. Last December, my wife, Bridgette, was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.”

This year, an estimated 19,700 women will be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Ovarian cancer currently ranks fifth in cancer deaths among women, and about 13,270 women will die of ovarian cancer in 2023. Despite these numbers, diagnoses have been slowly decreasing over the past two decades, according to ACS.

Ovarian cancer can occur in women as young as 15, but most cases are diagnosed in women older than 55.

Since her diagnosis in December 2022, Wilson-Sampras, 50, who has starred in dozens of television shows and movies, including The Wedding Planner, Mr. and Mrs. Smith and Billy Madison, has had major surgery and chemotherapy and is currently undergoing targeted maintenance therapy, according to CNN.

She and Sampras, 52, married 23 years ago, two years before he retired with 14 career Grand Slam singles titles. The pair have two sons, Christian, 20, and Ryan, 18.

“It is hard to watch someone you love go through a challenge like this. However, seeing our boys step up and be such strong supporters of Bridgette, myself and each other has been amazing,”

Sampras wrote. “Watching Bridgette continue to be an incredible mom and wife through it all has been inspiring.”

Sampras noted how difficult it can be to ask for support when “something is simply too hard to talk about.” He asked the public for “good thoughts and prayers for our family as Bridgette continues to thrive on her healing journey.”

To learn more, click #Ovarian Cancer. There, you’ll find headlines such as “New Online Tool Allows Users to Quickly Assess Their Risk of Breast and Ovarian Cancer,” “CU Cancer Center Care Team Provides a Foundation for Healing for BRCA1-positive Patient” and “Drug Shortage Is Affecting Cancer Treatment.”

For additional information, click Cancer Health’s Basics on Ovarian Cancer. It reads in part:

What are the risk factors for ovarian cancer?

Risk factors for developing ovarian cancer include obesity, family history, inherited genetic mutations, such as BRCA1 and BRCA2, never having been pregnant and long-term use of fertility drugs. Postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy is associated with a greater risk of ovarian cancer, while oral contraceptives are protective.


What are the symptoms of ovarian cancer?

The ovaries, part of the reproductive system in women, produce eggs. Once eggs are released, they travel through the fallopian tubes to the uterus. The ovaries are also the main source of the female hormones estrogen and progesterone.


Ovarian cancer often has no symptoms during early stages, so it is usually detected at later stages, when it is harder to treat. This cancer can have a variety of symptoms, many of which are similar to those caused by other noncancerous conditions, which include: 


—Pain in the pelvis or abdomen

—Loss of appetite, trouble eating or feeling full quickly

—Urinary urgency (feeling a strong need to pee)

—Urinary frequency (having to pee often).

If symptoms are persistent and are a change from normal, they should be checked by a gynecologist. It is important to let your health care providers know if you have a family history of ovarian cancer.


How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?

Early detection and treatment of cancer increases the likelihood of long-term survival. But ovarian cancer sometimes takes a while to diagnose because of the need to rule out other medical conditions. The process of diagnosis starts with a physical exam and health history. A doctor may do a pelvic exam, which is a manual internal exam of the vagina or rectum to feel for lumps.


Blood may be tested for the CA-125 protein, which is elevated in many women with ovarian cancer. A transvaginal ultrasound (TVUS) scan may be used to look for growths in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. X-rays, computed tomography (CT) or MRI scans may be done to see how much cancer has spread. A laparoscopy (inserting a thin tube through a small cut made in the belly) may be conducted to get a look at the inside of the abdomen, and a small tissue sample (a biopsy) may be removed to examine in the laboratory.