Do These Symptoms Point to Ovarian Cancer?
September is Ovarian Cancer Awareness Month. Each year, more than 22,000 American women are diagnosed with ovarian cancer. If caught early, the five-year survival rate is 90%. But since symptoms of ovarian cancer are somewhat vague and can easily be attributed to other health conditions, only 15% of women are diagnosed in the early stages. If diagnosis doesn’t occur until the cancer has reached stage 3 or 4, the five-year survival rate plummets to less than 40%.
Because the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer can also be symptoms of other health issues, this type of cancer has often been referred to as “the silent cancer” or “the disease that whispers.” Quiz your knowledge of the symptoms of ovarian cancer with these true or false statements.
1. If you feel full quickly when eating, it could be a sign of ovarian cancer
True: It might seem odd that ovarian cancer could cause digestive issues, but the ovaries are deep within the abdominal cavity. In advanced stages, a tumor may create pressure on your stomach, causing you to feel full quickly. This is one of the more common symptoms of ovarian cancer, but can also be attributed to other conditions. You may also experience a loss of appetite.
2. If you have to go to the bathroom often, it could be a sign of ovarian cancer
True: A tumor on the ovaries might affect the bladder and/or rectum. Issues with urination, like having to go urgently or frequently, are some of the more common signs of ovarian cancer. Constipation may also occur, but is less common.
3. Ovarian cancer may cause pain in areas other than your pelvis
True: Although ovarian cancer may cause pelvic pain, you may also have pain or pressure in your abdomen, lower back or thighs. You may also experience pain or discomfort during sex.
4. If you often feel bloated, it could be a sign of ovarian cancer
True: Just as with other symptoms, this could also be a symptom of something less serious – like gluten intolerance or eating too many carbs. Bloating is one of the four main symptoms of ovarian cancer, along with feeling full quickly, pelvic pain and frequent/urgent urination.
5. If you have abnormal or foul-smelling discharge, it could be a sign of ovarian cancer
False: Although this is not a common symptom of ovarian cancer, if you’re concerned about vaginal discharge or changes in your menstrual period, make an appointment to see your doctor to determine the reason.
6. You may not have any symptoms if you have ovarian cancer
True: According to PIH Health OBGYN Marc Melnik MD, the early stage of ovarian cancer may not be accompanied by any obvious symptoms and any early symptoms could be attributed to something else. If you experience persistent symptoms, you should consult your doctor even if you think they may be completely unrelated to your ovarian health.
7. If ovarian cancer is suspected, your doctor can perform a screening test
False: There is no specific screening test for diagnosing ovarian cancer. It is normally diagnosed through a combination of analyzing symptoms lasting longer than two weeks, a cancer antigen blood test and possibly a transvaginal ultrasound.
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