Many articles will make you believe that ovarian cancer is a “silent killer,” a disease that doesn’t have symptoms that can only be diagnosed when it is too late to be cured. However, corresponding to scientific research, ovarian cancer “can” be detected early. Conflicting to famous belief, it might be a disease that gives out early signals.
What makes these signs difficult to be recognized is that the same symptoms are mostly caused by common ailments such as gastrointestinal problems, bladder infections, and irritable bowel syndrome.
In fact, studies propose that nearly half of women will develop symptoms at least three months before diagnosis. However, these symptoms are often so vague that it may not even seem like they are related to any gynecological issues. Almost 94% of women have lived longer than five years after diagnosis when ovarian cancer was detected early. This means being attentive to what your body feels is very important.
Early Signs And Symptoms
Let us take a look at some symptoms to watch out for:
Persistent pain in the stomach or pelvis is one of the major symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Bloating can occur due to indigestion or PMS. But do not ignore if that feeling does not go away. If bloating around the abdomen happens for more than three weeks, see a doctor immediately.
This is the most common and the most noticeable symptom of cancer. At the time of diagnosis, nearly 40% of people with cancer report unexplained weight loss. This could be because of a number of reasons, such as changes in the immune system, loss of appetite, constipation, or even pain due to cancer.
Feeling Full Without Having Eaten Much
This is the inability to eat a normal-sized meal. It could be because you either feel full after eating very little or feel nauseated while attempting to eat the amount you regularly consume.
Needing To Urinate Frequently
This is often mistaken as urinary tract infection. But if an infection has not been spotted and the symptoms occur, see an OB/GYN right away.
Changes In Bowel Habits
With constipation, the stool tends to be dry and hard, making it difficult to pass. Bowel movements also happen infrequently. This common sign of cancer is often linked to tumors in the abdomen.
Other symptoms important to watch out for include: extreme fatigue, pain during sex, lower back pain, and menstrual irregularities.
- Women with hereditary nonpolyposis colorectal cancer, another inherited syndrome have about a 12% lifetime chance of developing ovarian cancer.
- Women with hereditary breast-ovary cancer syndrome have a risk of 10–44%.
A family history of breast cancer, ovarian cancer, colon cancer, and uterine cancer is linked to a higher risk of ovarian cancer. The lifetime risk of a woman who has an immediate relative with ovarian cancer is 5%, while that of an average woman’s lifetime is 1.4%.
Ovarian cancer rates are highest in women aged 55–64 years and are typical of perimenopausal and postmenopausal women. The frequency only increases with age.
Reproductive History And Infertility
Risk of getting ovarian cancer seems to be connected to menstrual cycles, childbirth, and infertility. Some factors include:
- Early onset of menstruation (before age 12)
- Not having experienced childbirth
- Having the first child after 30
- Going through menopause after 50
- Never taking oral contraceptives
- Infertility, regardless of the use of fertility drugs
Those who consume a high-fat diet or have a BMI of 30 or more are at a higher risk of getting ovarian cancer.