Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Ovarian cancer has the reputation of being a "silent killer". But many women know, and science has confirmed, that ovarian cancer DOES have symptoms.
Women with ovarian cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from "normal" for their bodies. The frequency and or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of ovarian cancer.
95% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer report having had one or more of these four common symptoms:
Pelvic or abdominal pain
Urinary urgency or frequency
Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during one month and the symptoms are new or unusual for you.
Symptoms are significant, but they are not a definitive diagnostic tool. Since there is no diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, symptom awareness remains of crucial importance. Being aware of the symptoms can help women get diagnosed sooner. Early-stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.
Other Symptoms Associated with Ovarian Cancer
Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying ovarian cancer because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have ovarian cancer.
Source: Ovarian Cancer Research Alliance
The Colorado Ovarian Cancer Alliance encourages women to track any persistent symptoms and take that information to their doctor, asking them to rule out ovarian cancer by administering a Trans-Vaginal Ultrasound (TVU), pelvic/rectal exam, and CA125 blood test.
I have symptoms. What do I do?
Know the symptoms - listen to your body- know the four most common symptoms (Bloating, Abdominal Pressure or Pain, Feeling Full Quickly when eating a meal, Urinary Urgency or Frequency)
DON’T WAIT! If you’ve had one or more symptoms for more than a few weeks in any given month, see a gynecologist as soon as possible. Ask the doctor to RULE OUT ovarian cancer. Request a transvaginal ultrasound (TVU), pelvic / rectal exam, and a CA125 blood test.
Advocate for yourself in your doctor’s office - misdiagnosis is common.
Risk factors for ovarian cancer
ALL women are at risk, and the risk of developing ovarian cancer increases with age. But, there is also an increased risk for these populations:
- Women with a family history of breast, ovarian, or colon cancer
- Jewish women
- Women of Hispanic heritage, including those in Colorado's San Luis Valley
- Women who have never been pregnant
- Women who have never used birth control pills
- Those who use infertility treatments
- Obese women
More Risk Factor Information
Learn more about the various risk factors for developing ovarian cancer!