Have you been suffering from bloating, abdominal or pelvic pain, back pain, and appetite changes? Did you miss a period lately, or have you been bleeding heavily? While these signs can indicate several other health concerns, these could be the symptoms of ovarian cancer.
In this article, we are going to discuss ovarian cancer, some of the early symptoms of ovarian cancer, unusual cancer symptoms, as well as when to seek medical assistance.
Let’s start with the basics.
What is ovarian cancer?
When genes that regulate cell growth mutate and allow abnormal cells in the ovaries to thrive, it leads to ovarian cancer. Women of progressive age are the usual victims of this cancer variant. However, women aged below 40 years can also develop ovarian cancer. Often termed silent cancer, detecting the early symptoms of ovarian cancer can get tricky.
As we already know, the ovaries are located in the pelvis region, which also hosts a lot of other body organs. Any cancerous developments until it’s readily visible might get ignored. The second reason that justifies ovarian cancer as the silent one is the vague symptoms. For instance, bloating, a sense of fullness, gastritis, indigestion, etc., can be easily concluded as the symptoms of an irritable bowel or stomach concern. Similarly, irregular periods, heavy flow, and pelvic and back pain are often associated with the menstruation aspect.
And, like any other cancer or health concern, an early diagnosis is the key to managing or preventing ovarian cancer too.
So, how do you gauge if you or your loved ones are at risk of developing ovarian cancer?
Ovarian Cancer Causes and Risk Factors
Here are some of the instances that could lead to ovarian cancer.
- Fertility treatments
- A family history of breast, ovarian, or cervical cancer
- BRCA1 or BRCA2 genetic mutations
- Uncontrolled obesity
- Delayed or no pregnancy
Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer
The below signs and symptoms don’t necessarily but up to a certain extent, are the indicators of ovarian cancer.
How has your latest food intake been? Have you been feeling the urge of fullness in the upper abdomen? Have your food schedules been altered? These could be caused due to a stomach disturbance or extreme stress. If you observe the above signs without any such circumstances, it should be brought to your physician’s attention. Difficulty in finishing even small meals or the feeling of nausea or vomiting that is often accompanied by a meal could be the early symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Most of us suffer from bloating at some point in our lives, don’t we? If the bloating is caused by an unhealthy diet or potential stomach infection, or gastric disturbance, bloating goes away with the right treatment. However, if you have been suffering from bloating for a prolonged period or are in need of buying new clothes as your stomach distention is highly pronounced, this could be one of the odd symptoms of ovarian cancer.
Unwarranted Weight Loss
In today’s age of unhealthy, sedentary lifestyles, and extremely stressful environments, weight gain and obesity have emerged as common challenges. Weight gain in women could happen due to a multitude of things - pregnancy, post-pregnancy weight gain, hormonal changes, ageing, etc. Weight loss in a controlled manner with planned physical activities, balancing the diet, and other measures are normal. However, if you have unexplained or unintended weight loss, it’s time to consult your physician. Studies cite that most people diagnosed with cancer exhibited unexplained weight loss symptoms in the early stages. Weight loss could be one of the odd symptoms of ovarian cancer, so you should not delay the consultation.
Menstrual Changes and Pelvic Discomfort
Most adolescent girls and women struggle with irregular periods, painful menstruations, heavy flow, and several other challenges. However, if you or any of your loved ones are suffering from the above challenges that do not have a gynaecological linkage, it might indicate ovarian cancer. While pain is often associated with menstruation, pain that is spread across the pelvic region, hip area, lower abdomen, and back might indicate the onset of ovarian cancer. No matter how odd these symptoms may appear, getting on-time consultation is the key to understanding the cause and seeking the right diagnosis and treatment.
Have your restroom visits increased lately? Have you been tested negative for diabetes, urine incontinence, and other urinary system challenges? Well, ovaries are situated adjacent to the bladder, and any sort of growth in the ovaries has the potential to push the bladder walls, that’s going to lead to frequent urination. However, don’t panic with information. You won’t know until you get a diagnosis done.
Let’s say you have been successful at identifying the signs and symptoms of ovarian cancer. So, what’s next? There’s a 2-week rule. You have to record your symptoms for at least 2 weeks. This will help your physician to steer the diagnosis in the right direction.
You will be recommended a complete clinical and pelvic examination. If your physician suspects any cancerous growth in your ovaries, you will need to undergo a biopsy to understand the nature and extent of the cancerous development. Imaging tests such as colour doppler ultrasound, a transvaginal ultrasound, CT scan, MRI, PET CT, and other blood tests are recommended to arrive at the diagnosis conclusion.
When to seek medical assistance?
Ovarian cancer symptoms are tricky to identify at the onset. However, if you observe any of the above-mentioned constantly, do seek medical assistance right away.
Being self-advocate for yourself and vigilant can improve your chances of preventing/managing ovarian cancer.
We at Apollo Cancer Centre are your ultimate destination for comprehensive diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare for ovarian cancer. You and your loved ones are in the safest and expert hands of the best-in-industry oncology experts.