As there is no early detection test it is important that every woman knows the signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer, and listens to her body carefully. Early detection of Ovarian Cancer is the key to the best treatment and outcomes.
So let’s take a look at the most common signs and symptoms:
Persistent bloating is one of the main signs of Ovarian Cancer
Persistent is the key word. Most of us feel bloated from time to time, but if you feel/look bloated for three weeks or more, then you should see your doctor to rule out anything serious.
Abdominal or pelvic (lower tummy) pain
Mild pelvic pain and pressure are common early symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. Pelvic pain occurs mostly in the lower abdomen area. The pain might be steady, or it might come and go. It can be a sharp and stabbing pain in a specific spot, or a dull pain that is spread out. If the pain is severe, it might get in the way of your daily activities
Feeling full after eating a small amount
No appetite or feeling full quickly while eating a meal or this sensation occurs between meals. If you are eating less however your clothes still feel tight and you are gaining weight. There may also be gas/indigestion or constipation.
Weight loss is common with more advanced Ovarian Cancer however at the early stage it may be related to the sense of fullness.
Needing to urinate often or urgently
Specific urinary symptoms associated with Ovarian Cancer include feeling pressure or pain in the bladder, frequent urination, sudden urgent need to urinate and or incontinence.
Lower back pain
Severe lower back pain is also associated with Ovarian Cancer. Back pain that persists throughout the day and interferes with sleep can be a sign of Ovarian Cancer. This is usually caused by the fluid that collects in the pelvis and causes irritation in the tissues of the lower back.
These are the most common signs and symptoms of Ovarian Cancer and whilst these are the most common symptoms, they are not the extent of symptoms, and not all women suffer all of these.
In the early stages of Ovarian Cancer the symptoms can be vague and are often attributed to other more common conditions. More often than not women diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer have had some vague symptoms for an extended period of time before diagnosis. It is not until the disease is advanced and the symptoms become significant that they seek medical advice.
The best judge of your body and any changes is still you. If you have any of these symptoms and they persist, visiting your doctor for further investigation should be your course of action.
Early diagnosis is the key to survival and it just might save your life.
Author: Madelyn Duckmanton
Madelyn is the Chair of the Letitia Linke research foundation. After losing her daughter, Letitia Linke, to Ovarian Cancer, she has continued Letitia’s work to raise awareness of Ovarian Cancer and generate funds to support research into an early detection test.