Ovarian cancer has long been considered to be a silent killer with very few, if any early symptoms. However, it turns out that ovarian cancer may not be as undetectable as once thought, and there are some early signs of this disease that are important to recognise and understand. Unfortunately, over seventy percent of women are diagnosed with this cancer when it has become more advanced, as women tend to ignore the early signs or mistakenly believe their symptoms may be related to weight gain, aging, or other less serious issues. Although ovarian cancer symptoms are often vague and very similar to symptoms of less serious problems, you should speak to your doctor if you experience any of the following problems persistently.
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Loss of Appetite
Losing your appetite and finding it difficult to eat as much as you once would is a common ovarian cancer system. If you have noticed recently that you are having trouble finishing even small meals, and feel full very quickly after eating, then contact your doctor to discuss it. If diagnosed, there are various treatment types including surgery to remove the affected ovary and fallopian tube or the entire uterus and cervix, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy. You can find out more about cancer care services including hospitals offering cancer care at Circle Health Group. Circle Health Group offers private care for various types of cancer including surgery and treatment for ovarian cancer.
Bloating is something that almost every woman has experienced. While it is normal to get this uncomfortable full feeling in your stomach at certain times of the month, especially close to your period, or perhaps after eating certain foods, you should speak with your doctor if you experience consistent bloating every day for up to three weeks. Constantly feeling full and bloated is one of the most common early sights of ovarian cancer, especially when accompanied by visible swelling in your stomach.
Pain and Pressure
If you have experienced persistent pain and pressure in your pelvis, abdomen, or lower back that is not going away after one to three weeks, this could be an early sign of ovarian cancer. While this is a vague symptom that might be down to any number of less serious conditions, it is important to have this checked out, especially if it is new to you, can’t be easily explained by other factors, and is persistent rather than coming and going. You may also try making some changes in your diet to see if it’s a GI problem or try some stress management techniques to see if the pain is related to stress. Unfortunately, however, the symptoms of these problems and ovarian cancer can be quite similar, which is why many women will see several specialists before finally getting a diagnosis.
If you are experiencing GI issues, this could be caused by a number of less serious issues such as anxiety, stress, or irritable bowel syndrome. However, constipation is one common symptom of ovarian cancer. You should pay close attention to any changes in your bowel habits, especially new and unusual constipation that cannot be easily explained – for example if you are taking new medication check the side effects. However, new constipation that is difficult or impossible to relieve with any interventions could be an early sign of ovarian cancer.
Bladder Function Changes
Most women who experience urinary problems such as feeling an urgency to urinate or experiencing pain when urinating, may assume that they have a urinary tract infection. In most cases, this is probably the issue. However, it is important to bear in mind that bladder issues in women can also be a symptom of a more serious reproductive or gynaecologic problem such as ovarian cancer. Ovarian cancer can lead to certain urinary symptoms including a sudden and urgent need to urinate, more frequent urination, and a feeling of pain or pressure in the bladder. If these symptoms do not go away after several days, are new to you and are not relieved by urinary tract infection treatments, then speak to your doctor.
For women who are still having their period, menstrual changes can be another sign of ovarian cancer. If your period suddenly becomes irregular, such as having more than one period each month or bleeding more or less than usual, these can all be signs of a more serious issue such as ovarian cancer. Of course, it can also signify stress, but it’s important to speak to your doctor about your concerns, especially if it happens more than once or is accompanied by any of the previous symptoms mentioned.
Ovarian cancer is one of the most common types of cancer affecting women, and the symptoms can often be easy to overlook or brush off as something less serious. While they can all be due to something less concerning, if you experience any of the above symptoms it’s best to speak to your doctor as soon as possible.