The problem with diagnosing ovarian cancer in the early stages is that women may not have symptoms until the cancer has progressed, or the symptoms they have are mistaken for something else. Even when women go to their doctor with symptoms, it can be months before the cancer is diagnosed. It has often spread to other parts of the body by then.
Ovarian Cancer is the 4th leading cause of death in women. It is the number one killer of women over all the gynecologic cancers. Here are the symptoms of ovarian cancer and how we (and they) explain them away:
Bloating in the lower abdominal area - Jeans are too tight. Explanation: Gas or water retention due to menstruation.
Pressure. Explanation: Gas, water retention, possible constipation.
Gastrointestinal problems - gas, change in bowel habits, pain. Explanation: Unhealthy food, IBS, “stomachache"
Urinary problems - burning, spasming, the urge to go frequently. Explanation: UTI - urinary tract infection
Fatigue and/or fever - You're exhausted and you have a temperature. Explanation: The flu. Need a vacation. Coupled with urinary problems? UTI
Back pain - Pain in the lower back. Explanation: Pulled a muscle. Lifted too much. Kidney infection.
Breathing difficulties- Tightness in the chest, problems inhaling. Explanation: Asthma, allergies, heart or lung problem.
Vaginal bleeding or discharge. Explanation: Irregular periods, yeast infection
Pain during intercourse. Explanation: Pressure from bloating.
Of all the symptoms, the two that most often bring women to the doctor are abdominal bloating and pain with intercourse. Even when other symptoms bother women enough to make an appointment, the symptoms are often thought to be indicators of something else. Often, it isn't until other possible diagnoses have been excluded that attention is turned to the ovaries.
Of course, any or all of these can be symptoms may be explained by any of the above. The best guideline to go by is to pay attention to how many of them you have and for how long it has been going on. If you are experiencing some or all of these early symptoms for more than two weeks, ask your doctor about possible ovarian cancer. Here are the tests you should ask for:
a) Bimanual pelvic exam
b) Ca125 blood test
c) Transvaginal ultrasound
Learn more about ovarian cancer symptoms at http://www.ovarian-cancersymptoms.com