For years, women have known that ovarian cancer was not the silent killer it was said to be. Over the past decade, science has found the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with ovarian cancer than women in the general population:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Several other symptoms have been commonly reported and they include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation or diarrhea, menstrual irregularities, weight gain or loss, and shortness of breath.
See your doctor, preferably a gynecologist, if these symptoms are unusual for you and persist for more than a few weeks. Experts suggest getting the following tests:
- A transvaginal ultrasound, CA-125 blood test and manual pelvic and rectal exam.
- A pap smear will not detect ovarian cancer.
- Any woman at risk, suspected or diagnosed with ovarian cancer should consult a gynecologic oncologist. Studies show survival rates are significantly better for women with ovarian cancer that are treated by a gynecologic oncologist.
Since there is no diagnostic tool for ovarian cancer, symptom awareness remains of key importance. Being cognizant of symptoms can help women get diagnosed sooner. Please download this printable symptom diary which women can use to track symptoms of ovarian cancer.