Ovarian cancer is best described as the “silent killer” because it doesn’t have as many apparent signs as skin cancer or breast. Though, those symptoms aren’t easy to identify.
According to Shannon Westin, M.D., an associate professor in the department of gynecologic oncology and reproductive medicine at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center;
“They’re very distinct, easy to ignore, and can easily be attributed to other things like changing their diet. They’re easy to blow off,” says Westin. Unluckily, ignoring the signs of ovarian cancer allows the disease to progress, making it more difficult to treat when it is spotted.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), ovarian cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in women, and causes more deaths than any other cancer of the female reproductive system.
Signs of Ovarian cancer
These signs of ovarian cancer are pretty elusive but if you’re having one of these symptoms, then see your doctor.
Persistent abdominal or pelvic pain
Any woman experiencing constant pelvic or abdominal pain that persists may be a major pointer that the cancer has spread. According to Mitchel Hoffman, M.D., a gynecologic oncologist at Moffitt Cancer Center, when they operate in ovarian cancer patients, the bulk have spread to other areas.
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“There can be quite a lot of tumors in the pelvis, upper part of the abdomen, bowel, and all the way up to the diaphragm,” he says. Ovarian cancer can also cause a fluid accumulation in the abdomen called ascites.
Another major symptom of ovarian cancer is excessive passing out of urine. According to Hoffman, constant urinating could be a sign of ovarian tumor. “There’s only so much room in the pelvis. When a woman begins to get a tumor there, it presses on the bladder and decreases the amount of bladder capacity, making the bladder feel fuller.
A tumor on your ovary can affect the way it normally functions, according to Hoffman. This in turn affects your cycle, leading to irregular period. So, for women who notice any big change in cycle, it’s vital to consult your doctor.
Also, some ovarian tumors even produce their own estrogen and can inhibit with your cycle that way by mirroring period bleeding. This mostly affects menopausal women.
When ovarian cancer spreads, it can affect the way your bowels function, leading to feeling of nausea. The same goes for feeling full sooner than normal or that you aren’t able to eat as much as you can.
READ ALSO: Ovarian Cysts
Your stomach may have less space than usual because of a growing tumor, or you could have fluid accumulation that also makes you feel full.
Bloating and constipation
The weakened bowel function can cause ovarian cancer to make you feel constipated. According to Hoffman, for your bowels to function properly, the bowels have to have muscular function to push things through,” he says. However, when cancer develops on the outer surface of the bowel, it can damage that function.
Pain during sex
Painful sexual intercourse could be caused by an ovarian tumor pressing into your vagina. Also, pain during sex could be caused by the hormonal changes which causes the vagina to be dry, thereby leading to discomfort during sex.