Ovarian cancer is the seventh most common type of cancer affecting women and the fifth leading cause of cancer death in females. Unfortunately, many doctors fail to recognize the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer due to their similarity to other conditions. As such, it is important to understand that the following symptoms are only rarely indicative of cancer. However, women who notice one or more occurring without an obvious cause should speak to their gynecologist.
Long-lasting abdominal discomfort or pain, including indigestion, can indicate any number of gastrointestinal conditions. In rare cases, it is a sign of ovarian cancer. Pain in the belly or pelvic area that does not feel like normal menstrual cramps, or that occurs outside of one's regular menstrual schedule and persists for a week or longer could indicate a problem.
Waning appetite is another sign that something might be wrong; this symptom can be caused by various ailments, one of which is ovarian cancer. As ovarian tumors grow, they can press on the stomach or intestines. The pressure of the tumor can cause a decrease in appetite. If a woman worries that her hunger is abnormal in any way, it is best to track eating habits and appetite for a few days, and then speak to a doctor. Whether the issue is a stomach bug or cancer, a professional opinion will help.
Abdominal discomfort from bloating or pain from gas can develop in women with ovarian cancer. It is normal to feel bloated after overeating, drinking too much, or during one's period. As with abdominal discomfort, if the symptom continues beyond the expected time frame with no other known cause, it could indicate a larger health concern.
Frequent urination is normal during pregnancy or when someone begins increasing their fluid intake. An unexplained increase in urination, however, can indicate something more serious. When increased urination frequency gives way to lack of bladder control, this is even more significant and should prompt a visit to a doctor.
Postmenopausal bleeding is a lesser-known, early sign of ovarian cancer. Some women find they spot occasionally outside of their regular period, or after sex, but if bleeding becomes frequent, is heavy, or is accompanied by pain, it is important to speak to a doctor. Also, women who experience bleeding or spotting after menopause should see their gynecologist right away.
The best way to maintain a healthy weight is by maintaining a nutritious diet and exercising regularly. People who are overweight, or those with obesity, who suddenly experience unexplained weight loss may have a medical issue. If weight loss is associated with gastrointestinal problems, such as nausea, appetite loss, and indigestion, see a doctor. Ovarian cancer is one of the possible causes of these symptoms, although there are other causes as well.
Burnout is a common experience for people in this day and age, and many people find a holiday or a weekend focused on rest and relaxation can alleviate their symptoms. When good sleep and reduced activity fail to improve fatigue, this could indicate the body is working overtime to fight off an infection or other illness, including cancer.
As it progresses, ovarian cancer can cause an individual to feel satiated after less and less food. As the ovarian tumor grows, it places pressure on other organs in the pelvic cavity, including the stomach, intestines, and liver. This can lead to a loss of appetite or feelings of fullness after eating only small amounts of food.
Women with ovarian cancer commonly report changes in bowel habits, though again, this is something that can result from many illnesses. Alternating diarrhea and constipation can signal the growth of tumors; as the tumor grows, it places pressure on the stomach and intestines, affecting bowel movements. Anyone who notes changes in bowel movements that do not resolve within a few days should see a doctor.
One of the most common signs of ovarian cancer is a dull, persistent pain in the lower back, although some women experience sharp back pains that they compare to labor pains. In women with cancer, this symptom usually develops in the later stages, due to the continuing growth of the tumor and possible metastasis.
This site offers information designed for educational purposes only. You should not rely on any information on this site as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, treatment, or as a substitute for, professional counseling care, advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional.