According to the American Cancer Society, ovarian cancer affects more than 20,000 American women annually. While this is but a fraction of the women who receive a breast cancer diagnosis each year, ovarian cancer is a much more deadly female reproductive cancer statistically.
What makes ovarian cancer such a fatal disease is the fact that it is normally diagnosed in its late stages after it has spread to other parts of the body and is hard to treat. This is because the symptoms are easy to miss, particularly in the early stages, often mimicking those experienced with benign conditions.
Beware of the following seemingly harmless symptoms of ovarian cancer…
Most of us experience bloating from time to time, but if you’ve been feeling or looking bloated for several weeks, then it’s important to see your doctor to rule out ovarian cancer.
Bloating is incredibly common. Thus, many women ignore it, thinking that the swelling and discomfort are probably related to their period or an unhealthy diet. That isn’t always the case.
Increased satiety is a common symptom of ovarian cancer. Many women with the disease report feeling full shortly after starting to eat, and they may no longer be able to finish small, routine meals.
Cancerous masses that take up space in the abdomen can also lead to changes in appetite. You may find that you are rarely hungry or just don’t feel like eating, which can lead to weight loss.
Inside the body, the ovaries are situated in the pelvis near the bladder and intestines, so it’s not unusual for tumors growing in the pelvic region to cause pain in the lower abdomen.
The abdominal discomfort associated with ovarian cancer can feel a lot like menstrual cramps. For this reason, women tend to brush it off as something that isn’t serious when in fact, it can be.
Pain can extend to the back with ovarian cancer. In fact, the pain can be intense, making it difficult to sit or stand. The discomfort may even interfere with sleep and keep you up at night.
Women with cancer of the ovaries may experience back pain due to an accumulation of fluid in the pelvis (ascites) or from a tumor that has spread and irritates lower back tissues.
While most ovarian cancers develop after menopause, the disease can affect women at any age, and when it affects younger females, there may be menstrual irregularities.
Abnormal bleeding is a common menstrual problem that a woman with ovarian cancer might experience. Periods can also become painful and uncomfortable – more so than usual.
Struggling with number two? Don’t ignore it, especially if constipation persists and isn’t relieved by diet and laxatives. You should also pay attention if it accompanies other ovarian cancer symptoms.
Constipation may occur when cancerous growths on the ovaries spread to nearby areas and press against the colon and intestines. This can interfere with digestion, causing toilet troubles.
Sometimes, malignant growths that affect the colon and intestines will cause diarrhea. It may occur alone regularly or irregularly with constipation and other disturbing symptoms.
Ovarian cancer symptoms often mimic those experienced with irritable bowel syndrome. The key is to take note of changes in bowel movements and gastrointestinal symptoms.
Experiencing a strong, frequent urge to pee (and then not being able to) is one of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer. Often, it leads women to believe that they have a urinary tract infection.
An increased urge to urinate with ovarian cancer can be caused by pelvic ascites compressing the bladder. It can also occur when cancer cells stud the outside of the bladder wall.
Feeling tired when you’re overworked is normal. Constantly feeling drained and exhausted for no particular reason is not. It’s a sign that there could be an underlying problem, like ovarian cancer.
Fatigue related to ovarian cancer can result from organ damage and your body naturally working to repair it. Eating and sleeping less due to pain or discomfort can also lead to fatigue.