Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer
Signs And Frequency Of Ovary Cancers

Signs of cancer of the ovaries

Bloated Tummy

Symptoms Of Ovarian Cancer

Contents

What Are The Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?
How Often Do Symptoms Occur?
IBS Vs Ovarian Cancer
Symptoms Diary



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Ovarian Cancer Guide

What Are The Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer?

Ovary cancer is a dangerous disease. It is responsible for more deaths than any another gynecologic cancer and the overall 5 year ovarian cancer survival rate is only 46 percent. The main reason for this poor prognosis is that so few women are diagnosed in the early stages because early signs of the disease are often missed or mistaken for other common and less serious health problems. Often by the time the cancer is diagnosed the tumor has spread outside of the ovaries and is difficult to control. On the other hand, if the disease is found early enough the cure rate is nearly 90 percent. Unfortunately only about 15 percent of ovary cancers are discovered at this stage. Research now indicates however that ovarian cancer is NOT a silent disease. Nearly 95 percent of women will experience one or more of the following 4 problems:

• Pelvic or abdominal pain.
• An increase in the size of the abdomen or persistent bloating.
• The need to urinate more frequently or urgently.
• Feeling fully quickly even after a light meal.

The following are also signs which should be noted if they are not usual for you:

• Excess gas and indigestion.
• Unexplained weight gain or loss.
Irregular periods and menstrual cycles.
• Vaginal bleeding that is not part of a menstrual cycle.
Painful intercourse.
• Back Pain which seems to worsen over time.
• Nausea, vomiting or indigestion.
Changes in bowel habits: diarrhea or constipation.
• Excessive fatigue which may be mistaken as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
• A vague feeling of discomfort in the pelvic region.
• Excessive hair growth.

How Often Do Symptoms Occur?

One recent case-controlled study of 149 women who had received an ovarian cancer diagnosis found that the majority had experienced one or more of the 4 main symptoms. Symptoms were reported as occurring more than 12 days a month over a period of less than one year. Those symptoms were abdominal/pelvic pain, urinary frequency/urgency, feeling full easily and bloating. According to researchers one or more symptoms were present in 57 percent of early stage disease and 80 percent of advanced stages.

Another extensive U.S. study (Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Washington School of Medicine, 2004) found that 95 percent of women who were diagnosed with ovarian cancer experienced at least one symptom in the previous 12 months. The frequency was as follows:

• Back Pain: 60 percent
• Fatigue: 52 percent
• Indigestion: 37 percent
• Urinary Tract Infections and Problems:35 percent
• Constipation: 33 percent
• Abdominal Pain: 28 percent
• Irregular Periods: 18 percent
• Diarrhea: 11 percent
• Postmenopausal Bleeding: 2 percent

On average, the women reported 4 symptoms within the past 12 months. 72 percent said symptoms had occurred at least once a month. As would be expected, women who were diagnosed after a routine pelvic examination experienced fewer symptoms than those going to the doctor because of a specific problem. In most instances women experienced a recurrence of symptoms. The most common recurring symptoms were:

• Back Pain: 45 percent
• Fatigue: 34 percent
• Indigestion: 28 percent
• Constipation: 24 percent
• Abdominal Pain: 22 percent
• Urinary Tract Problems: 16 percent

On average women experienced 2 recurring symptoms. Women who also had irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes and thyroid disease had significantly more symptoms and recurrences than the others. Specifically they were more likely to suffer gastrointestinal tract problems, fatigue and abdominal pain. Women with diabetes were more likely to suffer constipation, urinary tract complaints, abdominal pain and fatigue.

Postmenopause women exhibited far fewer symptoms than premenopausal women. All symptoms, except urinary tract problems, were less common as age increased.

While this study gives further evidence that ovary cancer is not a silent disease it must be noted that most women, even if they experience all of the above symptoms will not have ovarian cancer. It is still a rare disease and only accounts of 3 percent of cancers in women. Nonetheless, if you do experience any of the symptoms for more than 4 weeks, arrange to see your doctor but keep a symptoms diary (see below) in advance. The more exact information your doctor has the better, given that 80 to 90 percent of women who develop the disease have no prior family history or likely indicators.

Interesting: Read about Ovarian Cancer Recurrence and Ovarian Cancer Treatment.

IBS Vs Ovarian Cancer

Although many IBS symptoms are similar to those caused by ovarian cancer, the Washington School of Medicine study reported that most IBS patients typically experience symptoms 2 or 3 times a month, often with menses (with the exception of diarrhea, urinary tract infections and fatigue). Those with ovary cancer reported symptoms on average 15 to 30 times a month and symptoms of bloating and urinary tract problems in particular were more severe than those in with IBS.

Symptoms Diary

If you have any of the 4 main symptoms (and they are unusual for you) multiple times during a 4 week period, start completing this diary. Take the completed diary to your doctor to help with diagnosing the problem. It can be particularly helpful for the doctor to know when exactly symptoms started and how frequent and severe they are. If you experience a symptom, tick the day it occurred and rate its severity from 1 (mild) to 10 (severe).

Symptom Week 1 Week 2 Week 3 Week 4 Rate Symptom
Abdominal/pelvic pain

Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No

Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
How do you rate the severity of your symptom from 1 to 10?

Bloating/increased abdominal size Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
How do you rate the severity of your symptom from 1 to 10?
Urinary frequency/urgency Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
How do you rate the severity of your symptom from 1 to 10?
Feeling full quickly Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
Mon: Yes/No
Tue:
Yes/No
Wed:
Yes/No
Thur:
Yes/No
Frid:
Yes/No
Sat:
Yes/No
Sun:
Yes/No
How do you rate the severity of your symptom from 1 to 10?

  Related Articles on Ovary Cancer

For more guides, see the following:

Ovarian cancer prevention: Medical procedures and lifestyle advice.
Types of ovarian cancer: Common and rare types.
Causes of ovarian cancer: Possible risks discussed.

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