The symptoms of ovarian cancer come into notice mostly when it grows for some time and the cancer mass becomes large enough. Some women, however, may feel some symptoms, like pelvic pain, even in the early stages. As the symptoms are vague and are often similar to those of common benign conditions, the victims often tend to ignore them.
Detection of ovarian cancer is difficult in its early stages because the two small, almond shaped organs are deep within the abdominal cavity, one on each side of the uterus.
Among the common initial symptoms are bloating, pressure, pain or discomfort caused by fluid buildup or masses within the abdominal cavity. Fluid may also accumulate around the lungs, causing breathing problems, in case the cancer spreads to the diaphragm.
Because of the pressure on the stomach, one can also lose appetite or experience a feeling of fullness even after an extremely light meal. When the tumor begins exerting pressure on the bowel or bladder, the victim may experience nausea, vomiting, gas, diarrhea, constipation, or frequent urination. Some other symptoms, though not so frequent, are fever, vaginal bleeding and lower backache. One may also experience unexplained weight gain or loss, abnormal fatigue or changes in bowel habits.
If the symptoms persist in spite of normal procedures of diet change, exercise, or the use of laxatives, the patient should not delay in consulting a doctor. As the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer are vague or silent, only a small percentage of cases are detected in the early stages. Symptoms begin to manifest themselves in the advanced stages, when tumor growth exerts pressure on the bladder and rectum, and fluid begins to form.
If these vague symptoms persist over four to six weeks, it is wise to go for a thorough recto-vaginal examination. In recto-vaginal pelvic examination, the doctor simultaneously inserts one finger in the rectum and one in the vagina.
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