Can you recognize the symptoms of ovarian cancer?


For many people (myself included), gynecologic cancers seem to be the preserve of the elderly - something we will worry about when menopause hits, or even later, when we are in a nursing home. In fact, ovarian cancer affects people under the age of 65 in almost half of the cases. And nearly two-thirds of us (again, including me) can't recognize the telltale symptoms of ovarian cancer.

According to research conducted in 2019 by the charity Ovarian Cancer Action, 82% of women are unable to name the four main symptoms, while 70% of them may ignore the telltale signs of this deadly disease. Ovarian cancer is the 8th leading cause of cancer in women and the 4th leading cause of cancer death. Each year, it affects more than 5,000 people, with an incidence which "increases sharply from around 30-34 years old". Half of the cases appear in women under 65.

The symptoms of ovarian cancer are generally not much different from those reported for other more common problems, which is probably part of the reason why why 70% of those surveyed who presented with symptoms of ovarian cancer did not immediately see a doctor. "These symptoms are similar to those of many common non-cancerous conditions, such as irritable bowel syndrome, indigestion or period pain."

As with all cancers, early diagnosis is always preferable, but this is especially important with ovarian cancer, where the majority of stage 1 cases can be successfully treated. “Once it has spread, however, the majority are unfortunately incurable. Women who have been showing symptoms for a year or more, and it is questionable if they might have. could not be diagnosed with an ultrasound or a CA125 blood test while they were still in stage 1 ".

So what are the symptoms? They can be mistaken for less severe symptoms like irritable bowel syndrome or even period pain. They include pain in the lower abdomen or side, irregular periods , nausea, and frequent urges to go to the bathroom.

Affected people may also feel bloated and swollen. "The feeling of bloating is one of the most common symptoms of ovarian cancer and usually gets worse after eating." Affected people can reduce their food intake to avoid this.

However, bloating and swelling of the abdomen are phenomena that most people who have a menstrual cycle experience about once a month, during their period. So how do you know if this is something more disturbing? "The big difference between bloating or swelling of the abdomen associated with periods is that with menstruation it is linked to the menstrual cycle and rarely lasts more than a few days, whereas with cancer it gets worse. gradually and require a consultation if they last more than one to two weeks ".

Pain during sex can be an indicator. It can manifest as "intense tenderness or sometimes more severe and acute pain". Constipation can also be a symptom, if the person has never had it before and "cannot be explained by a change in diet".

If you have any doubts about any symptom you have, contact your doctor.

Previous Post Next Post