Ovarian cancer has been dubbed the “silent murderer” because as in other types of cancers, the symptoms may appear when the disease is already well advanced and difficult to treat. This type of cancer is the second most common gynecological type of cancer among women, but which has a higher mortality rate because in almost all cases it is discovered when it is too late.
According to reports in recent years, only 50% of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive up to 5 years after initial diagnosis. This is because in many cases it is detected at an advanced stage. However, experts say that early detection of this disease increases life expectancy up to 95%.
Ovarian cancer can occur in women of any age, but the risk increases from age 50 and older, with women aged 65 running the greatest risk of being diagnosed with it. It is important to learn about and know some of the symptoms that might alert us to possible ovarian cancer. But first, remember that these are red flags that should be examined by a specialist, since they can also be related to other health problems.
Warning signs of ovarian cancer
The following symptoms have been linked to ovarian cancer, but can also be signs of other health problems. Having these in mind and identifying them can be key to early detection of the disease and to receiving timely treatment.
- Abdominal bloating or swelling: Although this is a common symptom for a variety of health problems, feeling a swollen stomach and noting that the abdomen has increased in size could indicate ovarian cancer. If you notice that you often have this problem, it is best to consult with a doctor.
- Digestive symptoms: in addition to abdominal bloating, symptoms such as indigestion, constipation, abdominal cramps and discomfort, or any change in bowel habits are also warning signs.
- Pelvic pain: pelvic pain can be a very important signal of this disease. If the pain is frequent and seems to have no explanation, it is best to consult with a doctor and avoid masking it with some kind of painkiller.
- Back pain: if you experience pain in the lower back and have no reason to explain it, this can be another symptom of the disease.
- Frequent and uncontrolled urination: if suddenly you start to feel the urge to urinate frequently and you almost cannot control it, it’s possible that something may not be right. Usually these complaints are accompanied by pain or burning during urination and frequent urination at short intervals. These symptoms may indicate a weakness of the pelvic floor muscles, or may also be clear symptoms of a urinary tract infection. However, it is important to consult with a doctor, since it has been shown that these can also be common symptoms of ovarian cancer.
- Unexplained weight gain or loss: many women often feel very happy when they inexplicably lose much weight, but they should know that this is not normal and may be a sign that something is very wrong in the body. The same is true when there is unexplained weight gain. Generally you can also experience a loss of appetite or a feeling of being full all the time.
- Fatigue: people may feel fatigued due to a variety of health problems and even stress. However, this symptom is also quite common when suffering from ovarian cancer. You may feel tired, without energy and weak quite often, this is a sign that something is not right.
- Pain during sexual intercourse: if instead of enjoying sexual intercourse you often suffer from pain, consult with your doctor as this is also a common symptom of ovarian cancer.
Other symptoms to keep in mind
- Vaginal bleeding in postmenopausal women.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Frequent stomach pain.
Diagnosis of ovarian cancer
Ovarian cancer is difficult to detect because symptoms do not usually appear in the early stages of the disease. However, if you experience some of the symptoms mentioned above and consult with a physician, it can be diagnosed early through ultrasound, tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and a blood test called CA-125.