Ovarian cancer has been touted as the “silent killer” because of the disease’s assumed lack of early warning signs and symptoms. It turns out, however, that there are times when ovarian cancer may show early symptoms.
Early Ovarian Cancer Symptoms
The problem with the symptoms discussed in the statement is that they are very vague and don’t often raise red flags for the disease. They mimic the signs and symptoms of much less serious diseases, so there may be multiple misdiagnoses before ovarian cancer is diagnosed.
If you experience any of these symptoms daily for at least two weeks, see your doctor. Talk to him/her about your concern that your symptoms may be related to ovarian cancer. In all likelihood, your symptoms are probably caused by another condition than ovarian cancer, but it is important to openly discuss your concern.
According to the 2007 joint consensus issued by the American Cancer Society and other gynaecologic organizations, early ovarian cancer symptoms may include:
Bloating. You may be most familiar with bloating during PMS or when you eat too much, but women with ovarian cancer experience bloating every day and there is no relief. It may be mild bloating like they only feel a little full or may be severe to the point where it is difficult to button pants. Call the doctor if you are bloated every day for two weeks and do not get relief from OTC medications like gas relievers or diuretics. Often Misdiagnosed as: diet, gas, constipation, and other gastrointestinal ailments.
Pelvic Pain. As with bloating, you may have experienced pelvic pain during PMS or ovulation. Pelvic pain that occurs even when you are not menstruating or ovulating can be an early ovarian cancer symptom. It can feel like dull menstrual cramps or more severe, requiring you to lay down and take medication to relieve them. Remember that chronic pelvic pain that is not related to menstruation is not normal, regardless of the cause. Pelvic pain can be a serious indicator of something being wrong and merits evaluation by your doctor. Often misdiagnosed as: constipation, gas, stress, PMS, IBS, and other less serious ailments. It is important to let your doctor know how painful your pelvic pain is and what helps to relieve it.
Feeling full quickly while eating. If you find yourself feeling full before you have finished an average sized meal and it occurs frequently, then you need to mention it to your doctor. Feeling full is not the same as lack of appetite – you physically feel full after eating a small amount of food. Often misdiagnosed as: gastrointestinal ailments.
You can see a common trend that ovarian cancer is often initially misdiagnosed as gastrointestinal conditions. Sometimes it takes you being persistent in your healthcare or even changing doctors to get an accurate diagnosis.
Frequent Urination or Strong Urgency to urinate. If you feel like you are urinating more often and have not increased your fluid intake, then a trip to the doctor may be necessary. If you have the urge to urinate and do not actually go, it should also be evaluated by a doctor who will likely order a urinalysis to check for abnormalities. Often misdiagnosed as: Urinary tract infection. A UTI is the most common culprit of frequent urination or having the urge, despite not having to go. If your doctor prescribes antibiotics for a UTI, make sure you take them all. You may not experience relief until right after taking the last of the antibiotics. If you still experience symptoms after finishing the prescribed medication, see your doctor.
Important Points to remember about early Ovarian Cancer symptoms
While there may be early symptoms in some women, not all women with ovarian cancer will have symptoms at the time of diagnosis. Being diagnosed early is key with any condition, but the majority of women with ovarian cancer are not diagnosed at an early stage.
As previously noted, the symptoms are vague — so minor that you probably wouldn’t give them a second thought. With ovarian cancer, they are persistent and more severe than in other conditions that cause the same symptoms. Constipation is an excellent example. All women have experienced it at one time or another, but when it occurs daily for two weeks or so and does not get better, then it’s time to have it checked out by your doctor. Ovarian cancer is not common, so your doctor will likely look for more probable causes, rather than jumping directly to ruling out ovarian cancer. Yes, misdiagnosed cancer be common with ovarian cancer, but these symptoms aren’t likely caused by ovarian cancer in the majority of women.
Source: American Cancer Society