Although once called the “silent killer” because symptoms were often missed by patients and medical professionals, it is now well known that ovarian cancer symptoms are generally present and can alert women to seek early treatment.
“Know your body, know the signs!”
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.
Several studies show that even early stage ovarian cancer can produce these symptoms:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if you have these symptoms more than 12 times during the course of one month and the symptoms are new or unusual for you.
As medical research continues to investigate this important issue, numerous studies have been indicated that symptoms may not occur until late stage. Symptoms are important, but they are not a definitive diagnostic tool. Since there is no diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, symptom awareness remains of key importance. Being aware of symptoms can help women get diagnosed sooner. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis and longer lives for ovarian cancer survivors.
Several other symptoms have been commonly reported by women with ovarian cancer. These symptoms include:
- Back pain
- Pain with intercourse
- Menstrual irregularities
Note that 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.