Ovarian cancer is known as the “silent killer” because symptoms are often so subtle; they just seem like routine or common annoyances. However, the difference is that they will occur almost every day and not go away. The trouble is that by the time symptoms are considered an issue; usually the cancer has spread and it’s too progressed to treat effectively.
With only 20-percent of cases of ovarian cancers found early enough to treat the disease, we’re doing our part to make known the ten early warning signs of this silent killer of women…
1. Abdominal Pain
Pain in the pelvic area or belly that feels very different from normal indigestion and menstrual problems (i.e., cramps) is indicative of ovarian cancer. Most patients complained of abdominal pain that persisted for longer than 2 weeks, and wasn’t associated with their period, diarrhea, or the stomach flu.
Persistent indigestion, gas, nausea, or other gastro-intestinal issues, like heartburn, are quite common and persistent of ovarian cancer.
3. Loss of Appetite
Ovarian cancer is known to cause an abrupt loss of appetite that’s normally out of character for the person affected. This is because the cancer impacts metabolism—or the breakdown of food into energy that fuels the body.
Frequent bloating or gas pain in your belly or pelvis that doesn’t go away is another symptom of ovarian cancer. For instance, if your abdominals bloat so much that your clothes fit tighter around your waist so suddenly and without diet or activity changes—this may be cause for a doctor’s visit.
5. Urinary Frequency
Urinary problems, such as being overwhelmed by a sudden urge to urinate as well as peeing more often than usual is a sign of ovarian cancer—this can include bouts of incontinence (complete loss of bladder control before you can get to a bathroom) that will gradually worsen over a few weeks.
6. Feeling Full Quickly
In the more advanced stages of ovarian cancer, the cancer tumor itself can sit on the surface of the stomach, on the omentum (the fold in the abdominal cavity that connects the stomach to other organs), or on the intestines, causing a patient to feel full very quickly (a condition known as “early satiety”) when they eat.
7. Altering Constipation and Diarrhea
Changes in bowel habits, such as constipation and diarrhea, will often go hand in hand with ovarian cancer. This occurs when an ovarian tumor swells and puts pressure on the stomach, bowel, and bladder.
8. Lower Back Pain
A persistent, achy, dull pain in the lower back is a common sign of ovarian cancer. Many women patients equate the feeling with labor pain.
9. Sudden Weight Loss
Shedding 10 or more pounds without even dieting or exercising is common to ovarian cancer patients in the early stage. Even though you might consider it a welcome occurrence, this rapid and unexplained weight loss should be reported to your physician immediately.
10. Vaginal Bleeding
A lesser known early warning sign, one that has only been noted in approximately 1 quarter of ovarian cancer patients, was spotting or irregular vaginal bleeding outside of the regular menstrual cycle. Other vaginal abnormalities may include the sudden development of sores or blister in the vaginal area, changes in skin color, or thick discharge.