Ovarian cancer is one of the most deadly cancers out there. We hate to start with such an alarming statement, but it’s true.
Recognize Ovarian Cancer Signs That Could Save Your Life
Ovarian cancer is not deadly because it can’t be treated, it’s deadly because all too often it’s diagnosed in its later stages. According to the American Cancer Society, only 20% of ovarian cancer is caught in the “early stages.”
Knowledge is key when it comes to recognizing the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Cancer or not, each of the following signs indicates something isn’t well, and that it’s time to schedule an appointment with your OB/GYN or a general physician.
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer are Easy to Overlook
It’s easy to ignore the symptoms of ovarian cancer because so many of them are general, and easy to shove into the backgrounds of your awareness. Even worse, you may “learn to live with them” until they become impossible to live with, which is when your diagnosis may be more serious than it needed to be.
Ovarian cancer may contribute to:
- Unexplained pelvic pain
- Feeling full sooner or quicker than usual
- Unexplained weight gain, particularly in the abdomen
- Urinary frequency or increased urge to urinate
- Abnormal bleeding
- Pain shortly before your period
- Pain or discomfort during sex
- Dull ache in the lower back or thighs
- Unusual fatigue
- Nausea and/or vomiting as well as other gastrointestinal discomfort or diarrhea
See what we mean when we say they’re general? We’ve had patients who could claim virtually all-of-the-above and tried to explain it away by busy-ness, diet, stress, etc. Never write-off any red flags your body sends you; they are worthy messengers and you are wise to heed them.
Are You at Risk for Developing Ovarian Cancer?
Some women have a higher risk than others for developing cancer, which is why it’s always best to be thorough and detailed when delivering your personal/family medical and/or reproductive history.
Do you have a history of ovarian cancer in your family or had breast cancer in the past?
There’s a strong hereditary link for ovarian cancer, as well as a link to two genes called breast cancer gene 1 (BRCA1) and breast cancer gene 2 (BRCA2). If your mother, grandmother or an aunt had ovarian cancer, talk to your doctor about it and discuss genetic screening options, which can tailor future exams as well as their frequency. When we know this, we’ll take extra care when examining you for signs of ovarian and/or breast cancer.
You’re 55 years or older
Roughly two-thirds of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are 5
5-years old or older. Once you’ve reached menopause, be especially vigilant to any unusual changes in your body.
Additional risk factors include:
- Having been on high doses of hormone replacement therapy for extended periods of time
- Never having a child
- Having your first child after the age of 30-years old
- Not having breastfed
- A personal history of breast, colorectal and/or endometrial cancers
Ready to discuss your ovarian cancer risk with a compassionate team of women-centric care providers? Schedule a consultation with Women’s Health Associates.