It's difficult to identify ovarian cancer, however, roughly 22,280 cases are found in women every year. It can be a deadly and life-threatening form of cancer
The number of women affected by ovarian cancer is far greater than what many commonly believe to be. This form of cancer which starts in the ovaries goes largely unnoticed until it spreads to other parts of your abdomen and pelvis. In the United States, according to the National Cancer Institute (NCI), around 22,240 cases were reported in 2018 alone, with an estimated 14,070 deaths. Therefore, it's significant for the condition to be identified earlier within the confines of the ovary before it spreads to major organs in the body. It's more likely to successfully treat cancer if it's identified in the early stages. While the exact causes are still unknown, ovarian cancer is highly hereditary and needs to be checked up by a doctor on the risk of acquiring it.
According to an article published by the National Ovarian Cancer Coalition, one in 75 women are likely to get ovarian cancer in their life. Even though ovarian cancer normally occurs in women aged 63 and above, younger women, too, are known to have the chances of suffering from this disease. And given that the chances of recovery are high when treated early, it is best to be aware of the symptoms so you know you're safe.
Here are a few signs which you should definitely watch out for and consult a doctor if they are highly recurrent:
You'll constantly find yourself visiting the restroom when you feel pressure on your bladder. If this is not caused by the amount of water you drink then it definitely needs to be checked by a doctor. There might be a tumor in the pelvic area that causes the urge to urinate. This can often be mistaken by a urinary tract infection or a symptom of consuming to much water. According to Dr. Marleen Meyers, MD, an oncologist at New York University’s Langone Medical Center, an increased urge to urinate “occurs when ovarian cancer cells have studded the outside of the bladder wall or when ascites in the pelvis compresses the bladder".
You're either not full or constantly feel the need to eat to suppress your hunger. This is easily mistaken with a natural habit which some people are bound to have. However, it could be an indication that you may need a checkup. Even if you notice a sudden plunge in your weight with no cause backing it up then it's essential to get it checked.
It's very hard to define the reason behind bloating. However, it's one of the sneakiest ways of ovarian cancer making it into your system. It's easily misinterpreted as a menstrual cramp by most women when the reality is much worse. The bloating is due to the tumor in the abdomen which increases in size as the tumor advances. "With ovarian cancer, not only can tumors grow quite large, but they can result in fluid growing around them, which can cause pretty dramatic abdominal extension,” says Amanda Fader, MD, associate professor and director of Kelly Gynecologic Oncology Service.
Women who face period spotting after their menopause more or less gives away signs of ovarian cancer. It's important to keep track of your menstruation cycles and be aware of the changes that can be noticed in your body. A combination with other symptoms along with irregularities in the cycle can indicate a bigger problem.
A tumor growing your ovaries can already be a cause of discomfort and pain. However, participating in sexual intercourse can elevate the pain. If the pain lasts for more than two weeks, then it's a clear indication that it needs to be consulted by a doctor. The pain caused is known as Dyspareunia which can occur during or after sexual intercourse. Both men and women experience Dyspareunia, however, it's more common in the latter.
Indigestion can be caused due to several reasons, however, how do you rule it out when it's caused by ovarian cancer? Women who experience bloating or bleeding symptoms can also experience indigestion caused by heartburn and gastrointestinal issues. “Historically, ovarian cancer was thought to be the ‘silent killer’ because it developed without announcement, and before you know it, the patient had late-stage cancer,” Dr. Carmel Cohen, a professor emeritus of obstetrics, gynecology, and reproductive science at The Mount Sinai Hospital, tells Healthline.
Back pain is also another common feeling backed up other factors. However, it's difficult to pin down the cause of back pain unless it's checked or screened by a doctor. You can understand if the back pain is caused due to physical activity or if it's not unresponsive to any treatment. Back pain caused by ovarian cancer lasts up to three weeks can be a cause of concern. “Unfortunately, it can be really hard to differentiate between symptoms of ovarian cancer and GI- or stress-related problems,” says Amina Ahmed, MD, a gynecologic oncologist at Rush. “That’s why so many women see a number of specialists before they are finally diagnosed.”
Abdominal pain can just as easily be mistaken for that time of the month, so it's essential to keep track of your menstruation cycles and identify minor changes when you experience irregular pains. Extreme abdominal pain can be caused due to a tumor growing in the lower abdomen. If you feel the pain lasting up to 3 weeks then talk to your doctor about conducting tests such as a pelvic exam, a GI evaluation, bloodwork or a CT scan.Disclaimer : This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.