Ovarian cancer, a type of cancer in women, causes mutations in genes that control cell growth, allowing abnormal cells to form. These false cells multiply rapidly and eventually form a tumor. If left untreated, ovarian cancer can spread to other parts of your body. Ovarian cancer rates are highest in women between the ages of 60 and 60.
Although ovarian cancer is rare in women under the age of 40, it is important to know that women of all ages can develop ovarian cancer. Fertility treatments, endometriosis, obesity, and a family history of ovarian, breast, or uterine cancer increase the risk of ovarian cancer.
Only 19 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer are diagnosed at an early stage. Ovarian cancer is more difficult to diagnose because there are no routine tests that can effectively detect the disease. For this reason, all women should see a doctor if they experience the following symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Change in appetite
Abdominal bloating or distension
Fatigue or low energy
Accidental weight loss
Swelling of the feet
Recognize the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer
In the first stage, ovarian cancer does not show any symptoms. Symptoms may appear as the disease progresses, but many women ignore the warning signs because ovarian cancer symptoms can mimic many other less serious problems. That’s why all women need to pay attention to their bodies, be alert to changes in their health, and resist the temptation to self-diagnose. Do not ignore unusual symptoms.
Early detection of ovarian cancer affects treatment outcomes. If you experience any of these unpleasant symptoms for more than 12 days a month or for more than two weeks, you should consult your healthcare provider.
- Change in appetite
Yes, there are many explanations for how your appetite can change. But if you’re experiencing temporary digestive distress or changes that can’t be explained by stress, it’s important to let your healthcare provider know about your symptoms. A change in appetite can be one of the first symptoms of ovarian cancer. Many women feel unusually full after eating a small amount of food. If you have ovarian cancer, it may be difficult to finish a small meal, regardless of how hungry you are before you eat. Some women experience nausea and vomiting after eating.
- Menstrual changes
Although irregular periods are not a sign of ovarian cancer, irregular cycles can increase the risk. Some women diagnosed with ovarian cancer report having periods more than once a month or spotting between periods. If you haven’t gone through menopause and suddenly have irregular periods or more frequent cramps than usual, you should make an appointment with your gynecologist. This is especially true if you are using birth control pills. If you are postmenopausal, you should check with your healthcare provider if you experience sudden bleeding.
- Abdominal bloating
Bloating is a common complaint noted by researchers studying ovarian cancer symptoms. Before being diagnosed, many women believe that stretch marks are caused by age, fluid retention, and an unhealthy diet. Bloating caused by ovarian cancer can be mild or severe. Some women are so bloated that they have to buy bigger clothes. Waist enlargement is caused by an enlarged tumor and fluid accumulation (ascites) in the abdomen in people with liver disease or certain types of cancer. Abdominal bloating is accompanied by symptoms such as indigestion and a change in appetite, but does not cause discomfort in the abdominal cavity, but the symptoms of bloating and enlargement.
- Pelvic discomfort
Because menstruation is common and often considered normal, many women blame the menstrual cycle for pelvic discomfort caused by ovarian cancer. Some blame it on digestive issues, noting heartburn, bloating, constipation, and gas. But it’s important to know that abdominal, hip, and back pelvic pain can be symptoms of ovarian cancer. When the tumor spreads to the abdomen or pelvis, it can irritate the tissues of the back. If your pelvic discomfort is new or getting worse, consider seeing a gynecologist.
- Frequent urination
Your bladder and ovaries are close together. Tumors and tumors in and around the ovaries can cause urinary problems. Many women with ovarian cancer have frequent urges to urinate in the weeks or months before they are diagnosed. The symptoms are so similar that some believe they have a urinary tract infection. If you have ovarian cancer, you may notice urgency, burning pain when urinating, bladder spasms, or difficulty emptying your bladder.
- Low energy or fatigue
In general, when you are tired, you just need to rest a little. It’s important to let your healthcare provider know if you have much less energy than usual or don’t feel refreshed after getting enough sleep. If persistent fatigue prevents you from enjoying normal activities, making an appointment is especially important. Chronic fatigue can have many causes, but loss of energy and tiredness can be a symptom of ovarian cancer.
- Accidental weight loss
If you’ve lost more than five percent of your body weight in the last six to 12 months without changing your diet or exercise, it’s time to see your doctor. Nearly 40 percent of people first diagnosed with cancer report weight loss for no apparent reason. Women with ovarian cancer also develop cachexia, which causes weight loss and muscle weakness. Cachexia can be caused by the immune system’s response to a carcinogen or disease.
- Gastrointestinal disorders
Gastrointestinal symptoms are the most common complaints leading to the diagnosis of ovarian cancer. Women who ignore gastrointestinal disorders are diagnosed at a late stage of the disease. That’s why it may be important to know that many of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer mimic irritable bowel syndrome, which is caused by the hypersensitivity of the small intestine. Both conditions can cause abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, and constipation, so women who experience IBS symptoms for three weeks or longer should talk to their doctor about ovarian cancer testing.
- Swelling of the feet
One of the first symptoms of ovarian cancer is fluid accumulation in the legs, ankles, or lower legs. Fluid retention can cause your legs to feel unusually heavy. As the swelling progresses, your skin may look stretched or shiny. After applying pressure, the swollen areas remain indented, which is called pitting edema. Although leg swelling can be related to medical reasons, ovarian cancer is one of several types of cancer that can cause a tumor. About 20 percent of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have leg swelling.
- Although many symptoms can be explained by other conditions unrelated to ovarian cancer, don’t ignore your symptoms. Many symptoms of ovarian cancer are ignored until the disease is advanced.
- If your exam or imaging results suggest that you may have ovarian cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend that you consult with a gynecologic oncologist who treats cancers of the female reproductive system.