Most women with ovarian cancer may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage.
Ovarian cancer is a disease that develops in a woman's ovaries. The cancer occurs more commonly in women older than 50 years but it can affect younger women too. It is the fifth leading cause of cancer death in women, claiming the lives of over 100,000 women per yearlargely because the signs and symptoms are not apparent and no screening tests are available. Studies show that about 60 per cent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer already have an advanced form of the disease. Like most other cancers prognosis and response to treatment is good if the disease is diagnosed in early stages.
[Read: Tips to Prevent Ovarian Cancer]
Early Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
Most women with ovarian cancer may have no symptoms or only mild symptoms, until the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. Hence this cancer has also been referred to as a "silent" disease. However many recent studies suggest that women have early symptoms more often than previously appreciated.
The four early symptoms of ovarian cancer are:
- Pelvic or abdominal (stomach) pain
- Change in bladder habits, such as urgency or frequency of micturition, urinary incontinence
- Trouble eating or feeling full quickly even after a light meal
[Read: Diet for Ovarian Cancer Patients]
According to studies the above symptoms probably occur more often in women with ovarian cancer as compared to general population. The symptoms progress slowly and are described a as a change from normal. Women with these symptoms tend to ignore them as they are vague, may consider it as a part of normal aging process or as symptoms due to some other conditions, such as a urinary tract infection (UTI). Healthcare providers, suggest that women who have these symptoms for more than 2 weeks should consult a doctor preferably a gynecologist. These symptoms do not mean that you have ovarian cancer but your doctor can diagnose the cause and then treat the problem appropriately.
Other Common Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
As the cancer grows within the ovaries, invades the regional lymph nodes and other tissues, and then spreads to other parts of the body ---the symptoms become more obvious. The other common signs and symptoms which may be present in a patient with ovarian cancer include:
- fatigue or tiredness
- frequent or painful urination
- back pain
- loss of appetite
- feeling of abdominal fullness, even after having a light meal
- change of weight (gain or loss) without and apparent reason
- abnormal periods (heavy periods or bleeding after menopause)
- general abdominal or pelvic discomfort and/or pain (gas, indigestion, pressure, swelling, bloating, or cramps)
- pain during intercourse.
[Read: How Ovarian Cancer Develops]
The early symptoms or the other common symptoms mentioned above are not sure signs of ovarian cancer. Many other conditions can present with similar problems. Your doctor can evaluate you and then treat accordingly. Response to treatment and prognosis is better when the cancer is diagnosed in early stages.
Read more articles on Ovarian Cancer
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