Symptoms of ovarian cancer are nonspecific and mimic those of many other more common conditions, including digestive and bladder disorders. A woman with ovarian cancer may be diagnosed with another condition before finally learning she has cancer. Common misdiagnoses include irritable bowel syndrome, stress and depression.
The key seems to be persistent or worsening signs and symptoms. With most digestive disorders, symptoms tend to come and go, or they occur in certain situations or after eating certain foods. With ovarian cancer, there’s typically little fluctuation — symptoms are constant and gradually worsen.
Recent studies have shown that women with ovarian cancer are more likely than are other women to consistently experience the following symptoms:
Abdominal pressure, fullness, swelling or bloating
Pelvic discomfort or pain
Additional signs and symptoms that women with ovarian cancer may experience include:
Persistent indigestion, gas or nausea
Unexplained changes in bowel habits, such as constipation
Changes in bladder habits, including a frequent need to urinate
Loss of appetite or quickly feeling full
Increased abdominal girth or clothes fitting tighter around your waist
Pain during intercourse (dyspareunia)
A persistent lack of energy
Low back pain
Changes in menstruation
When to see a doctor
See your doctor if you have swelling, bloating, pressure or pain in your abdomen or pelvis that lasts for more than a few weeks. If you’ve already seen a doctor and received a diagnosis other than ovarian cancer, but you’re not getting relief from the treatment, schedule a follow-up visit with your doctor or get a second opinion. Make sure that a pelvic exam is a part of your evaluation.
If you have a history of ovarian cancer or a strong history of breast cancer in your family, strongly consider seeing a doctor trained to detect and care for ovarian cancer patients so that you can talk about screening, genetic testing and treatment options while you are disease-free.
Source: >> Mayo Clinic
This National Cancer Institute (NCI) booklet (NIH Publication No. 06-1561) is about ovarian epithelial cancer. It is the most common type of ovarian cancer. It begins in the tissue that covers the ovaries.
You will read about possible causes, symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment. You will also find lists of questions to ask your doctor. It may help to take this booklet with you to your next appointment.
Important terms appear in italics. By clicking on the term, you can get its definition. Most terms have a “sounds-like” spelling to show how to pronounce them. Definitions of more than 4,000 terms are also on the NCI Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/dictionary.
This booklet is not about ovarian germ cell tumors or other types of ovarian cancer. To find out about these types of ovarian cancer, please visit our Web site at http://www.cancer.gov/cancertopics/types/ovarian. Or, contact our Cancer Information Service. We can answer your questions about cancer. We can send you NCI booklets, fact sheets, and other materials. You can call 1-800-4-CANCER or instant message us through the LiveHelp service at http://www.cancer.gov/help.
This booklet is available to download in .pdf format:
Source: National Cancer Institute