Ovarian cancer is an elusive one because the signs and symptoms mimic other common complaints. Women often blow them off or chalk them up to everyday life before seeing a doctor. On the flip-side, health care practitioners might also view the vague complaints as dietary or stress-related instead of getting a work-up.
There is no easy diagnosis for ovarian cancer. Breast cancer usually comes with a lump, change in skin, inverted nipples or discharge. Endometrial cancer usually comes with post-menopausal bleeding/spotting or discharge. Ovarian cancer moves much more stealthily than that.
Here are some things to watch out for:
1) Chronic bloating that won’t go away no matter what you do (It doesn’t generally come and go).
2) Abdominal swelling in the lower pelvic area. Makes it hard to button your pants.
3) Feeling full quickly when eating.
4) Urinary urgency – you have to go NOW!
5) Pelvic pain.
6) Vague back pain not from sprain/strain, overuse or trauma.
Here are some risk factors for ovarian cancer:
1) Starting your period before 12 years old. This causes more ovulations.
2) Never having been pregnant allows you to cycle and ovulate more.
3) Going into menopause later means you have more cycles.
5) Having certain mutations of BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene.
Please keep in mind that the symptoms are vague. You may have urinary urgency but yours could be due to the vaginal births you had, not ovarian cancer. You may experience chronic bloating but you also eat cheese every day and are intolerant to it. Is your low back pain from your desk job or three-inch heels, or maybe from gardening all Saturday?
After examining these concerns with no relief from treatments, please talk with your health care practitioner about a pelvic ultrasound and possibly some blood-work. Ovarian cancer is often caught in the late stage and survival isn’t that promising. If you recognize yourself in this article, please examine the possibilities and talk with your doctor.