Within a single year, 19,571 new cases of ovarian cancer were reported among American women. About 13,445 women died of ovarian cancer the same year. Despite the fact that cancer is the second-leading cause of death in the US, most women can’t spot ovarian cancer symptoms.
Here are some of the early signs of ovarian symptoms to keep an eye out for. If these symptoms sound familiar, consider visiting a Gynecological Oncology practice right away.
Read on to learn more.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Ovarian cancer doesn’t always present symptoms in its early stages. Some patients also discount their symptoms. Some of these symptoms resemble those that are common with other conditions.
The ovaries are also located deep within the abdomen. Since they’re small, it’s sometimes difficult for a doctor to feel them during physical exams.
If your symptoms persist longer than two weeks, visit a doctor right away.
Here are some of the common ovarian cancer symptoms patients experience.
Bloating, or an uncomfortable fullness sensation in your stomach, is normal from time. Many women experience this symptom around their monthly cycle.
If you have ovarian cancer, you could experience bloating more often. In fact, bloating can last every day for up to three weeks.
Other stomach issues include:
- An upset stomach
Bloating is sometimes accompanied by abdominal distension. You might notice visible swelling in your stomach, which indicates a serious problem.
Changes in Bladder Function
Most women who experience urinary problems experience pain when urinating or increased urgency. While many patients think they’ve developed a urinary tract infection, these symptoms could indicate a reproductive or gynecologic problem. Urinary problems often connected to ovarian cancer include:
- A sudden, urgent need to urinate
- Frequent urination
- Pain or pressure in the bladder
When you feel the urge to pee and try to, a small trickle (or nothing at all) may come out. You might begin experiencing an increased urge to urinate, too. These symptoms indicate the ovarian cells have studded the outside of your bladder wall.
Symptoms can also occur when ascites (fluid buildup) in your pelvis compresses your bladder.
Let your doctor know if you experience bladder problems.
Some patients feel full quickly after they begin eating. Other patients experience a lack of appetite.
Feeling bloated might indicate fluid is building up (ascites). You could experience a loss of appetite or feeling full after eating as a result.
If you’re not eating the food your body needs to function, you might experience fatigue more often. Some patients also lose weight as a result of their symptoms.
You may experience GI issues due to anxiety, stress, or irritable bowel syndrome. In some cases, GI symptoms like constipation are an early sign of ovarian cancer.
Let your doctor know about any serious changes to your bowel. New constipation that doesn’t subside with intervention could indicate a serious problem. If constipation persists after a few weeks, visit a specialist.
Tumors growing within your pelvis can trigger painful symptoms in the lower abdomen. If you begin experiencing discomfort that’s similar to period cramps, don’t discount it. Instead, talk to your gynecologic oncologist specialist right away.
You might also experience unexplained pain during specific cavities. For example:
- Pain while having sex
- Back pain
- Pain in the pelvis or abdomen
Many women ignore their pain, assuming their stomach issues are harmless. Visiting a specialist can give you peace of mind. Let them know if your pain persists for one to three weeks (especially if the pain is new).
If your pain improves after you relieve any stress you’re experiencing, the symptoms are likely stress-related. If symptoms improve when you change your diet, it’s likely a GI issue.
Your doctor might recommend testing, including:
- A pelvic exam
- A CT scan, MRI, or ultrasound
- A GI evaluation
If your pain symptoms indicate you have ovarian cancer, beginning treatment right away is crucial.
Ovarian cancer is the eighth most commonly occurring cancer in women. It’s the 18th most common cancer overall. Unfortunately, cancer can cause fatigue, even in earlier stages.
Try to determine the underlying source of your exhaustion. If you can’t find an explanation, it could indicate ovarian cancer.
Risk Factors and Causes
Your risk of developing ovarian cancer might increase if you have:
- Lynch syndrome
- Eastern European and/or Ashkenazi Jewish ancestry
- Age (risk increases after menopause)
- A history of breast cancer
- Family history of colon, ovarian, or breast cancer
- Used hormone therapy after menopause
- Smoked frequently
- Have a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation
- Received some fertility or hormone-based treatments/medications
There are also factors that can help reduce your risk.
Try to stop smoking. Follow a diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables. Reduce your intake of fats and sugars.
Maintaining a healthy weight, using birth control medication, or having reproductive system surgery might also reduce your risk.
Visit a specialist if your symptoms:
- Don’t go away
- Are almost always present
- Started in the last 12 months
- Last over two weeks
- Don’t respond to over-the-counter medications
- Aren’t the result of another condition
While in the early stages, ovarian cancer is sometimes difficult to diagnose. Remaining aware of the risk factors can help you receive treatment as soon as symptoms appear.
Don’t Ignore These Early Signs of Ovarian Cancer
Don’t hesitate to visit a specialist if these early signs of ovarian cancer sound familiar. Instead, visit a gynecologic oncologist right away. Beginning treatment early could make all the difference in ensuring your health.
Do these ovarian cancer symptoms sound familiar? We’re here for you.
Contact us today to schedule your next appointment.