Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Signs and Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

Knowing the Signs: How to Recognize Ovarian Cancer

It was once thought that ovarian cancer symptoms were too vague to identify. But recent data shows otherwise. There are warning signs, we just have to pay attention.

Symptoms may include:

  • Pelvic swelling
  • Lower back pain
  • Nausea
  • Weight loss
  • Pain during intercourse
  • Constipation
  • Loss of appetite
  • Feeling full shortly after eating
  • Frequent urination
  • Changes in menstrual cycle

    These symptoms do not always indicate ovarian cancer. But it’s a good idea to discuss them with a doctor if the symptoms are new and last for several weeks.

    Oftentimes, ovarian cancer is suspected when a lump is felt during a routine pelvic exam. However, a lump is not always detectable in the early stages of ovarian cancer. If a lump is detected, it doesn’t automatically mean that cancer is present. Numerous medical conditions can cause lumps.

    If ovarian cancer is suspected because of symptoms or an abnormal doctor’s exam, images of the abdomen and pelvis are usually taken. Imaging tests alone do not provide enough information to definitively diagnose ovarian cancer, however they may provide information about the location of a possible cancer.

    The best way to diagnose ovarian cancer is with an exploratory operation. During the operation, an incision is made in the abdomen. The doctor examines the pelvis and abdomen for signs of cancer. Tissue samples are taken from the ovaries, peritoneal cavity, lymph nodes and the diaphragm. The doctor sends the samples for examination by a pathologist. The pathologist examines the tissue samples and then notifies the doctor as to whether definite signs of cancer are present. The doctor will remove as much of the cancerous tissue as possible. In most cases, the uterus, Fallopian tubes, and ovaries are removed. Treatment results are best in women whose surgery removes all visible tumors.

    Prognosis and survival rate depend on many factors. Only a doctor familiar with a person’s type of cancer, stage, response to treatment and overall health, can put all of this information together to arrive at a prognosis. Survival rates for ovarian cancer depend greatly on catching it early. Early stages are the best time to begin effective treatment.


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