The symptoms of ovarian cancer are similar to those of other more common diseases and conditions. Because of this, most ovarian cancer is advanced before it is diagnosed. According to the Mayo Clinic, roughly 20 percent of ovarian cancers are caught before the disease has spread to other areas of the body, including the lungs and the bladder. For that reason alone, women should be aware of the symptoms of both early and advanced ovarian cancer.
The most common symptom of ovarian cancer is pain. This pain is usually a persistent, dull pain felt in the lower abdomen, lower back and sometimes, into the thighs. In most cases, this pain is caused by the cancerous mass inside of the ovaries growing, which places more pressure on the nerves and tissues surrounding the ovaries. Ovarian tissue is extremely sensitive, much like that of testicles. In some cases, the pain may be like that of an upset stomach.
Changes in urinary habits are a sign of advanced ovarian cancer. Some women find that they have trouble urinating, while others find that they urinate more than normal. Both of these conditions are caused by pressure from the cancerous tumor in the ovary. Women who have trouble urinating may have a uterine tumor putting pressure on the urinary tract. Women who have to go to the bathroom more often may have a tumor putting pressure on the bladder.
Abnormal Menstrual Cycle
Women with ovarian cancer may experience abnormal menstrual cycles or vaginal bleeding between menstrual cycles. Both of these scenarios are caused by the hormonal changes the cancer causes in the ovary, which is where a woman’s eggs are produced. Because the menstrual cycle is such a delicately balanced process, any disruption to it will cause noticeable variations in the cycle. Some women may have a menstruation that lasts two weeks or more, while other women who had a regular cycle prior to the cancer may find that they only have a menstruation once every two or three months.
Bloating, constipation, lack of appetite, fever, fatigue, gas and excessive hair growth are all signs of many diseases and conditions, one of which is ovarian cancer. The fact that these are symptoms of so many diseases makes it difficult for a doctor to diagnose ovarian cancer if these are the only symptoms a patient has.
Women who are experiencing any of the symptoms of ovarian cancer should immediately consult a physician. It is important to keep a journal of these symptoms, especially if you are experiencing an irregular menstrual cycle. When you go to the doctor, ask her to figure out your risk factor score for ovarian cancer. Some of the risk factors include being treated for endometriosis with the drug danazol, using hormone replacement therapy, suffering from infertility, having a family history of cancer and obesity. Women who have gone through menopause are more likely to have ovarian cancer than women of childbearing age.