There is a very good reason that Ovarian Cancer is called “The Silent Killer.” Ovarian cancer is the ninth most common cancer in women and the fifth most common cause of cancer death. Most of its symptoms are commonly written off as a bladder infection, intestinal discomfort, depression or PMS. In fact, until 2007, most doctors and researchers didn’t agree that Ovarian Cancer had any symptoms.
Despite the fact that researchers and physicians agree that recognizing Ovarian Cancer early significantly increases the chances of survival, too often women ignore the symptoms until their cancer has already progressed. Unfortunately, only around 15% of women with Ovarian Cancer receive an early diagnosis.
For many women, Ovarian Cancer symptoms begin as a pain in the ovaries, which then progresses to a constant, dull ache. The pain gets stronger and harder to ignore over time. For others, their first sign may be unexplained vaginal bleeding, which may be a period that is heavier than usual or sudden bleeding between periods. Pain and bleeding during intercourse, a feeling of pressure in the abdomen, abdominal swelling, urinary problems, constipation, and a feeling of fullness in the abdomen area are all symptoms that also commonly occur with other health problems, but commonly occur with Ovarian Cancer.
Sometimes the symptoms are as vague as feeling nausea or gas more often, feeling fatigued or tired despite getting plenty of sleep, abdominal bloating, changes in bowel or urinary habits, pain or discomfort in pelvic area, lack of appetite, increased waist size, and unexplained weight loss or gain. Because these symptoms are often found in more common ailments like depression, PMS and PMDD, UTIs, and intestinal disorders like Irritable Bowel Syndrome, they are often dismissed as being signs of these disorders. Unlike these disorders, however, the symptoms continue and grow in intensity with time. It is important to consult with a physician, preferably a gynecologist, if any of these symptoms continue for two weeks or more.
While women may feel reluctant to discuss these issues with their doctor, it is important that they do so. It is better to be tested and given a clean bill of health, than to allow it to progress because of embarrassment. It is important never to allow a lack of confidence or fear of being embarrassed to get in the way of health. It is also much more likely that she will survive an Ovarian Cancer (or any cancer) diagnosis if it is detected early.
Ultimately, each woman knows her own body. She knows when something isn’t right. She should discuss her health problems with her doctor in order to determine whether they are the sign of a much more deadly illness.
For more information on Ovarian Cancer these websites offer detailed information and resources: