Cancer can affect almost all the body parts. Breast cancer and ovarian cancer are the most common cancers in women. Ovarian cancer is proved to be the eighth most common cancer and the second most commonly diagnosed gynaecological malignancy in women1. Ovarian cancer occurs in the cells of ovaries (reproductive glands that produce ova or eggs) and is the most deadly cancer of female reproductive system. It is often called “The Silent Killer” as it doesn’t show symptoms for a long time. The exact cause of ovarian cancer is still not known. But there are theories that women aging between 50 and 60 and, women who have used an intrauterine device, or estrogen hormone replacement therapy or fertility treatments are at higher risk of developing this cancer.
Early detection is the greatest hope of surviving ovarian cancer. Therefore, you should be aware of the various signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. Only 20% of ovarian cancers are detected at an early stage. You are likely to experience symptoms when cancer has spread beyond the ovaries, but even early-stage cancer can cause them.
The following symptoms are related to ovarian cancer. Keep them in mind, as it can be a key to an early detection of the disease and helps to receive timely treatment.
It is a common symptom for a variety of health problems and is most commonly seen in women. It’s ok to wait for a week or two to see if this goes away, but if bloating doesn’t get better with time or if it is associated with weight loss or other symptoms, then you should immediately see the doctor.
Abdominal or pelvic pain
Pain in the abdomen and pelvis may also be seen during the menstrual cycle, but the regular and severe pain is something you should make a note of.
Trouble eating or feeling full quickly
Occasional trouble in swallowing is not a big deal, but when it happens very often along with vomiting or weight loss, you should see the doctor because it may be a clue for early cancer detection.
Urinary symptoms such as urgency or frequency
If you suddenly start to feel frequent and uncontrolled urination accompanied with pain or burning, it indicates the weakness of the pelvic floor muscles or may also be clear symptoms of urinary tract infection. However, you should meet the doctor since these are also common symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Along with abdominal bloating, symptoms such as indigestion and constipation, or any change in bowel habits are also warning signs of ovarian cancer. So, please don’t ignore them!
Lower back pain
If you suddenly start experiencing pain in the lower back region without any reason, this can also be another symptom of the disease.
Increase in the size of the abdomen
Occasionally, the size of the abdomen may increase due to indigestion, bloating, etc. But, do remember it is one of the signs of ovarian cancer.
Most of the people experience fatigue due to a variety of health problems including stress. But this is the common symptom of ovarian cancer. You may feel tired and weak very often, which indicates that something is not right.
Pain with sexual activity
If instead of enjoying sexual activity, you suffer from extreme pain, consult the doctor as this is also a common sign of ovarian cancer.
Unexpected weight loss or gain
Most of you may feel happy when you lose weight without workouts, but it is important for you to know that this is not normal and may be a sign of ovarian cancer. Same is true with weight gain. You may experience loss of appetite and feel full all the time.
You may also experience symptoms such as vaginal bleeding, nausea or vomiting, anemia and frequent stomach pain.
All the above-mentioned symptoms are commonly seen in many other types of cancers. But, when they are caused by ovarian cancer, they occur more often and are more severe. If you experience all these symptoms more than 12 times a month, then you should consult the doctor immediately.
Persistence of symptoms is a hallmark of many cancers. So please, don’t wait longer than two weeks if any of the symptoms mentioned above persist. Meet your physician for early diagnosis! You need not have all of these symptoms, but even one of the symptoms can be a clue that saves your life. You should get checked without fail especially if you are at risk of developing ovarian cancer.
Hogdall E. Approaches to the detection of ovarian cancer. Scand J Clin Lab Invest. 19 Jul 2016: 1-5.