Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
Ovarian cancer is the fourth cancer-related cause of death among women. It is estimated that there will be about 16,210 deaths from ovarian cancer in the United States during 2005. Unfortunately, most ovarian cancers are detected late, despite the fact that many women experience symptoms quite early in the course of the disease.
Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
For many years, it was thought that symptoms associated with ovarian cancer
were too vague and could be easily confused with other diseases. However, several new studies indicate these symptoms are not only recognizable, even in the early stages of ovarian cancer, but they can be a useful tool for saving lives.
According to one of the earliest studies of ovarian cancer symptoms
, more than three fourths of patients with early ovarian cancer have symptoms. The most common symptoms reported were:
- abdominal or pelvic pain
- vaginal bleeding
More recently, an excellent study has looked at the frequency of symptoms of ovarian cancer
in women presenting to primary care clinic
. The researchers used a questionnaire with 20 symptoms given to two groups of women. One group was formed by over 1,700 women presenting for general medical visits. The other group consisted of 128 women with documented ovarian or pelvic masses, scheduled for surgical removal.
The most common symptoms reported by women in the primary care group were back pain, fatigue, indigestion, and urinary tract problems. Over 90% of women in the pelvic mass group reported symptoms; the most common symptoms associated with ovarian cancer were pelvic pain, abdominal pain, difficulty eating, bloating, increased abdominal size, and urinary urgency. Also, women with ovarian cancer had more symptoms at any given time, and experienced more recurrent symptoms, too. For example, women with ovarian cancer experienced more daily symptoms, while those in the primary care group had symptoms only two or three times per month, often associated with menses.
What Are the Most Common Ovarian Cancer Symptoms?
Based on the above mentioned studies, it appears the most frequent symptoms in ovarian cancer are:
- bloating, or a sensation of fullness
- frequent urination, or feelings of urgency
- increased abdominal girth
- indigestion, constipation
- painful intercourse
- menstrual irregularities
- back pains
The keyword in ovarian cancer is persistence of symptoms. If any of the above symptoms (or a combination of them) persists for more than 2 or 3 months, please have them checked by your doctor.
Note: The information presented here is in no way intended to replace the advice or consultation of your doctor. For any signs of symptoms of disease, we strongly encourage you to consult your primary care physician.