Ovarian cancer is the fifth leading cause of cancer deaths among women. Knowing the early signs and ovarian cancer symptoms can help you seek treatment at the earliest.
When malignant (cancerous) cells are formed in the ovaries, a woman develops ovarian cancer. Although the exact cause of this disease is unknown, it is a life-threatening condition that affects around 23,000 women each year in the United States alone. What makes fighting this disease difficult is that the early signs are easy to overlook. Ovarian cancer symptoms are often mistaken for pre-menstrual syndrome (PMS) or other not-so-serious health problems like bowel problems. According to the American Cancer Society, early detection of this cancer happens only around 20 percent of the time. Owing to this reason, the cancer goes undetected often until it has already metastasized to the abdomen and pelvis. If the disease is diagnosed when still limited to the ovaries, it is more likely to be treated successfully.
One way in which you can ensure prompt diagnosis when ovarian cancer is still in its initial stage is by keeping an eye out for early ovarian cancer symptoms and signs. For this, you need to know these symptoms, and if you notice any changes in your body that are persistent, consult a doctor immediately to determine whether they are ovarian cancer symptoms or something else. Here are five of the early ovarian cancer symptoms and signs that you should watch out for.
1. Abdominal bloating and constipation
Any bloating and constipation are generally disregarded as a stomach upset or irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). If these signs are occurring around the time of your period, you may tend to brush them off as PMS signs. However, if these symptoms occur more than a few times a month and particularly if you are above the age of 40 years, a gynecologist visit may be the right thing to do. Bloating can make you feel heavy and even result in the widening of your waist. So if you notice that your clothes are feeling tight and your constipation doesn’t seem to go away, your body may be signaling ovarian cancer symptoms. There is no need to panic, just visit a doctor at the earliest to get the symptoms checked.
2. Change in appetite and weight loss
If you happen to notice a loss of appetite for no apparent reason and a feeling of fullness even when you aren’t eating a lot, it just might be one of the early ovarian cancer symptoms. Also, you may find that you are losing weight even without any additional exercise or diet. Shedding those few pounds may seem exciting if you are trying to lose weight, but rapid weight loss may be a symptom of ovarian cancer.
- Pelvic discomfort
Another one of the initial ovarian cancer symptoms that may seem like periods-related signs, persistent pain in the pelvic area may be your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Pain and discomfort that subsides within a few days is nothing to be scared about, but if your pain is long lasting, do not ignore it and instead get it checked by a medical professional as soon as possible. In addition to being one of the early ovarian cancer symptoms, pelvic pain can also be a sign of ovarian cysts.
- Reduced bladder control
A constant and frequent need to urinate signals weak pelvic floor muscles, and can occur in women as they age. However, if you find that you have to constantly keep rushing to the loo even though your liquid intake hasn’t gone up, it may be one of the early warning signs of ovarian cancer symptoms. Decreased bladder control may also mean that you are barely able to control the flow before reaching the toilet, and it is a sign that you need to get yourself checked by a doctor.
- Unexplained fatigue
Since ovarian cancer usually affects women who are over the age of 40 years, a feeling of tiredness is often dismissed as a sign of perimenopause and menopause. However, what you are overlooking may just be one of the initial ovarian cancer symptoms, and the constant fatigue is your body warning you of a serious health condition. If you find yourself fighting a persistent feeling of fatigue even without any extra physical activities or a major change in lifestyle, check with your gynecologist to determine whether it is one of the ovarian cancer symptoms.