Ovarian cancer constitutes 20,000 cases in the United States each year. This relatively rare and often-fatal form of cancer occurs in the ovaries, part of the female reproductive system. One reason for its high fatality is the lack of symptoms in the early stages -- only about 20% of ovarian cancers are detected early. The tumors spread quickly to the pelvis, intestines, liver, and stomach, which makes treatment difficult. The symptoms that do occur early are often generic and easily mistaken for other conditions or minor illnesses.
Women with early-stage ovarian cancer may experience some type of pain, cramping, or pressure in the pelvic area, abdomen, or stomach. This pain feels different than that associated with menstrual cramping and does not follow the same cycle. When pain that may be initially attributed to indigestion or heartburn continues for more than a few weeks, seek medical attention.
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