Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

By: Rebecca Wincup

In the US, ovarian cancer is the fourth major cause of death from cancer for women and affects 1 in 57 women. The disease can be successfully treated, like most other cancers, if detected early on. Unfortunately, it is currently estimated that only around 24% of ovarian cancer cases are detected early on, resulting in lower survival rates. Hence, it is essential for women to be aware and watch for early signs of ovarian cancer.
To help people recognize the signs of ovarian cancer, the American Cancer Society in 2007, published some guidelines. Early symptoms of ovarian cancer can be bloating, gas, a "full" feeling, tiredness, irregular periods, abdominal or pelvic pain, and intense or frequent urination. Having a hard time eating or feeling full too early after beginning to eat are also signs of the presence of ovarian cancer.
It is often difficult to detect ovarian cancer as no reliable medical screening currently exists that can provide an early check. Women at risk of having ovarian cancer should stay aware of possible early symptoms of ovarian cancer so that it could be diagnosed immediately. Although early symptoms of ovarian cancer, which can include menstrual irregularities or pelvic pain, do not definitely point to cancer, women should learn to recognize these symptoms early.
If you experience sudden or unusual symptoms, visit your doctor immediately. Follow-up with transvaginal ultrasound, bimanual pelvic exam and a Ca125 blood test may be required to rule out early symptoms of ovarian cancer. At high risk to develop ovarian cancer are women who have been found to have BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation, did not use birth control pills, have never been pregnant, and who were found to be afflicted with breast cancer before they reach the age of 50.
The risk of developing ovarian cancer varies among women. Some risk factors for women include being an Ashkenazi Jew, being age 50 or older, having at least two relatives with a history of ovarian cancer, and a history of exposure to multiple fertility drugs. Women who fall within these categories should be cognizant of what constitutes early symptoms of ovarian cancer.
The difficulty with ovarian cancer comes because early symptoms of ovarian cancer may not necessarily be cancer. Many of these symptoms can instead be related to other conditions, such as ovarian cysts, or irritable bowel syndrome. For this reason, women should seek medical attention whenever these symptoms persist for more than a couple of weeks.
It is extremely critical to be aware of what the early symptoms of ovarian cancer are, so this disease can be stopped before getting any worse. More than 6 percent of cases of cancer are fatal and women along with their physicians need to be aware of these symptoms and keep a close watch for them.

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