Ovarian cancer accounts for more deaths among women than any other cancer of the female reproductive system. In terms of incidence, it’s the second most common gynecological cancer. What makes ovarian cancer the leading cause of death among women is the fact that its symptoms only appear when the cancer has reached an advanced stage. That’s why it’s often referred to as the silent killer.
There are however several symptoms that may indicate ovarian cancer in its earlier stages. Knowing these symptoms and addressing them in time can increase your chances of successful treatment.
EARLY SIGNS OF OVARIAN CANCER
1# Bloating – Feeling bloated and gassy more often than usual is the first warning sign of ovarian cancer.
2# Constipation – Irregular bowel movement and constipation can also indicate this type of cancer.
3# Pelvic pain – Pain that feels like heaviness or discomfort around the pelvic region.
4# Lower back pain – Lower back pain or spasms as well as discomfort which intensifies when you strain to your body.
5# Frequent need to urinate and incontinence – Urinary incontinence can also be a sign of ovarian cancer as a result of weakened pelvic floor muscles.
6# Loss of appetite – Feeling full after smaller meals or unexplained weight loss.
7# Sexual activity – Abdominal or pelvic pain during or post intercourse.
8# Fatigue – Getting tired easily without any intense physical activity.
Important: Other common, less serious conditions can also give these symptoms. Although they might not necessarily indicate ovarian cancer, you should still discuss them with your gynecologist.
Although the exact causes of ovarian cancer haven’t been determined yet, there are several risk factors that can significantly increase your chances of this disease.
The following groups of women are more susceptible to developing ovarian cancer:
- Women who have never been pregnant or given birth,
- Women over 50; in fact, over 50% of the diagnosed cases are women over 65,
- Breast cancer patients,
- Women with a family history of breast, ovarian, endometrial (uterus), prostate or colon cancer,
- Women with genetic mutation in BRCA1 or BRCA2. (This factor is not all inclusive),
- Women who have a first-degree relative (mother or sister) diagnosed with ovarian cancer.
Unfortunately, many cases of ovarian cancer haven’t been preceded with any of the symptoms listed above. So, in case any of these early warning signs lasts for more than 2 weeks, consult your gynecologist immediately.