Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Ovarian Cancer Symptoms

Ovarian cancer is a type of cancer that originates in a woman's ovaries. It can affect one or both ovaries and is caused by a genetic mutation. This mutation makes cells multiply rapidly and increases their lifespan. As a result, the cells turn into tumours. As the disease progresses these mutated cells may begin to affect other organs as well.

Stage of Ovarian Cancer

There are 4 stages of ovarian cancer:

  • Stage 1: Here cancer affects only the ovaries.
  • Stage 2: The condition spreads from the ovaries to other organs in the pelvic cavity.
  • Stage 3: Tumour spreads to abdominal lymph nodes and the abdominal lining.
  • Stage 4: Cancer spreads to other parts of the body outside the pelvic cavity.

Ovarian cancer can be treated if it is diagnosed in its early stages. However, most cases are diagnosed only after the disease has progressed to an advanced stage. This is mainly because there are negligible ovarian cancer symptoms noticeable in the early stages of this condition.

Signs of Ovarian Cancer

It is very easy to overlook the early signs of ovarian cancer as they are very similar to signs of other common illnesses. These symptoms do not usually persist and may come and go. Common symptoms associated with ovarian cancer include:

  • Pain or pressure in the abdomen
  • Bloating of the abdomen
  • Feeling very full after eating even just a little bit
  • Trouble eating food
  • An increased frequency in the urge to urinate
  • An increase in the amount of urine passed
  • Frequent indigestion
  • Fatigue and tiredness
  • Heartburn
  • Pain in the back
  • Constipation
  • Pain while having sexual intercourse
  • Irregular periods
  • Heavier than normal menstrual bleeding
  • Dermatomyositis - this is a rare disease that can cause weakness of the muscle, rashes and inflammation in the muscle tissue.

It is not necessary that a woman experiencing these symptoms has ovarian cancer as they can also be caused by other diseases. However, if they persist over a longer period of time, it is advisable to consult a doctor. Another reason to consult a doctor would be if these symptoms occur very often and are more severe than normal.  
It is also important to get regular check-ups if you have a personal history of cancer or a family history of ovarian or breast cancer. This is because the genetic mutations associated with ovarian cancer may be inherited from either parent. In such cases, ask your doctor about screening tests for ovarian cancer.