In the Spirit of Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month, I am sharing the symptoms of Ovarian Cancer. It is known as the Silent Killer but it does not have to be silent. It is also called the Cancer That Whispers because its symptoms mimic other diseases such as Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Diverticulitis, Stress, Kidney Infections, Bladder Infections, Depression, acid reflux, weak pelvic floor, eating disorders and allergies.
The best offense is to stay informed and to be aggressive in your health. My symptoms were ignored for over a year and, till it was found, the cancer had progressed to a Stage 3.
Its symptoms include:
- Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
- Urinary urgency, a frequent need to urinate
- Pelvic discomfort or pain
- Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
- Unexplained changes in bowel habits, such as constipation or diarrhea
- Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
- Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
- Difficulty losing weight
- Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
- A persistent lack of energy
- Low back pain….Numbness or tingling in legs
- Changes in menstruation
- Symptoms above worsening during menstruation
Symptoms of ovarian cancer are nonspecific and mimic those of many other more common conditions, including digestive and bladder disorders. A woman with ovarian cancer may be diagnosed with another condition before finally learning she has cancer. Common misdiagnoses include irritable bowel syndrome, stress and depression.
The key seems to be persistent or worsening signs and symptoms. With most digestive disorders, symptoms tend to come and go, or they occur in certain situations or after eating certain foods. With ovarian cancer, there’s typically little fluctuation — symptoms are constant and gradually worsen.
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have swelling, bloating, pressure or pain in your abdomen or pelvis that lasts for more than a few weeks. If you’ve already seen a doctor and received a diagnosis other than ovarian cancer, but you’re not getting relief from the treatment, schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor or get a second opinion. Make sure that a pelvic exam is a part of your evaluation. Insist upon a Transvaginal Sonogram and a simple blood test called a CA125. A pap smear will NOT detect ovarian cancer!
If you have a history of ovarian cancer or a strong history of breast cancer in your family, strongly consider seeing a doctor trained to detect and care for ovarian cancer patients so that you can talk about screening, genetic testing and treatment options while you are disease-free.
On a Personal Note: The blood test, CA125 can indicate an Ovarian issue, however it did not pick up my particular type of Ovarian Cancer and there are several types. Ask your doctor for some type of imaging test to look for a mass. http://www.mayoclinic.org/