Ovarian cancer has been referred to as the “disease that whispers.” In its early stages, it can cause subtle symptoms that are easily attributable to other conditions. Most symptoms associated with ovarian cancer typically don’t raise a red flag until the disease reaches more advanced stages.
Common symptoms are pelvic pressure, bladder irritation, fullness after meals, early satiety and bloating. Typically, these symptoms do not come and go, but instead, they progressively worsen over time.
You don’t need to run to the doctor if you wake up bloated one day or find yourself down a few pounds when you weren’t trying. But if you notice your symptoms don’t go away or increase in severity, you should schedule an appointment with your doctor.
Listen to Your Body
Women know their bodies better than anyone. If you feel something is wrong, do not stop seeking help until someone can give you a diagnosis.
Ovarian cancer is usually a subtle disease, but it does have early symptoms contrary to what people are told. Pay attention to your body, any look for any symptoms you may have, including:
- Bloating or abdominal swelling
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Pelvic pain or pressure
- Feeling full quickly after eating
- Urinary urgency or frequency
- Back pain
- Painful sex
- Constipation, diarrhea, nausea or fatigue
- Changes in menstruation
- Unexplained weight loss
It is also critical that women continue to have annual pelvic examinations with their gynecologist. When ovarian cancer is caught in its earliest stages, approximately 94% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer live 5 years or more. But only about 20% of ovarian cancer is found early, according to the American Cancer Society. When ovarian cancer is not detected until it’s more advanced (stage III or higher), the survival rate can be as low as 28%.
The sooner ovarian cancer is diagnosed, the better a woman’s chance for survival.