Historically, Ovarian Cancer was called the “silent killer,” because symptoms were not thought to develop until the chance of cure was poor. However, recent studies have shown this term is untrue and that the following symptoms are much more likely to occur in women with Ovarian Cancer than women in the general population.
Research suggests that the majority of women with Ovarian Cancer experience symptoms. Symptoms vary and often depend on the location of the tumor and its impact on the surrounding organs.
These symptoms include:
- Pelvic or abdominal pain
- Difficulty eating or feeling full quickly
- Urinary symptoms (urgency or frequency)
Women with Ovarian Cancer report that symptoms are persistent and represent a change from normal for their bodies. The frequency and/or number of such symptoms are key factors in the diagnosis of Ovarian Cancer. Several studies show that even early stage Ovarian Cancer can produce these symptoms.
Women who have these symptoms almost daily for more than a few weeks should see their doctor, preferably a gynecologist. Prompt medical evaluation may lead to detection at the earliest possible stage of the disease. Early stage diagnosis is associated with an improved prognosis.
Women with Ovarian Cancer have commonly reported several other symptoms. These symptoms include fatigue, indigestion, back pain, pain with intercourse, constipation, and menstrual irregularities. However, these other symptoms are not as useful in identifying Ovarian Cancer, because they are also found in equal frequency in women in the general population who do not have Ovarian Cancer.