Ovarian Cancer: Do You Ignore The Warning Signs Of "The Silent Killer"?
Over 150,000 women die from ovarian cancer each and every year. It's definitely something to be worried about. It's one of the most frightening forms of cancer--it's often not detected until it's too late to treat it. However, if you do manage to detect it early, doctors have a very high success rate in dealing with it. Early detection really can save lives. Of course, while no one symptom leads inexorably to a cancer diagnosis, there are symptoms that show up again and again in recently diagnosed ovarian cancer patients. These are just some of the symptoms that could be cause for concern, and reason to go see your doctor.
#1 - Lower Abdomen or Pelvis Pain
Although pain is one of the easiest symptoms to recognize, it's notoriously hard to diagnose. It's not very specific, and could be the result of multiple potential causes. However, if you have sudden pain or unusual heaviness in your lower abdomen and pelvis, and don't have an obvious external cause to blame, you could have early-stage ovarian cancer.
#2 - Unexplained Back Pain
Muscle sprains and arthritis, especially among the elderly, are the most common sources of back pain. However, back pain without an obvious external cause--especially back pain that gradually worsens over time--could be an early warning sign for ovarian cancer. A doctor's visit can help confirm what precisely is causing your back pain.
#3 - Unusual or Fluctiating Menstrual Cycles
Ovarian cancer doesn't just occur in the elderly. About 30 percent of ovarian cancer cases occur before the age of 55, so pre-menopausal women have cause for concern as well. Obviously, any kind of significant condition in your ovaries can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle. If your periods suddenly start dramatically changing, it's a good idea to talk to a doctor.
#4 - Persistant Fatigue
Cancer is tiring. As it spreads through your body, it drains your strength; it's competing with your healthy cells for your energy. It becomes harder to do everyday activities. You lose your appetite, have breathlessness, nausea and fatigue--all very common symptoms. It could be a more progressed stage of cancer.
#5 - Uncomfortable or Painful Sex
Any problems with your reproductive system could cause pain or discomfort during sex, and ovarian cancer is no exception. If you have pressure or outright pain in your pelvis, and find yourself needing to go to the bathroom more frequently and more urgently, this could be an early sign of ovarian cancer. Any pain during sexual intercourse is cause to see your doctor as soon as possible.
#6 - Loss of Appetite
If there is one tell-tale sign of cancer, at least in popular media, it's the loss of appetite. Your energy gets drained, and even the thought of eating is tiring. Now, there are many potential causes of a loss of appetite--stomach flu, a bad mood, and so on--but those tend to go away after a short while. If your appetite leaves and doesn't come back, it could be the sign of something more serious.
#7 - Vomiting and Nausea
Vomiting and nausea over a large period of time could be the sign of a serious condition. While food poisoning or constipation has the same signs, those are temporary, and the feelings pass quickly. Advanced forms of cancer, however, can actually block your intestines. That will cause issues up and down your digestive system. If you experience nausea, coupled with diarrhea or bloating, you should consult a physician.
#8 - Belly Bloat
The single most familiar warning sign for ovarian cancer is bloating, followed by general abdominal pain. If the bloating and pain lasts for an extended period of time--days and weeks--it could be the sign of a serious medical condition. Don't be concerned about a day or so of bloating; that could be any number of smaller issues like IBS. If your bloating lasts for an extended period of time, however, consult a physician.
#9 - Unusually Coarse Hair Growth
A rarer, but still potential, sign of ovarian cancer is excessive hair growth. If you have a cyst in your ovaries, your hormonal balance can be thrown out of whack. That can cause a number of abnormal symptoms, including hair growth. While most people with ovarian cancer do not experience this rare symptom, if it DOES occur, it can be a diagnostic sign and a cause for concern.
#10 - Constant Constipation
Two of the first parts of your body effected by spreading ovarian cancer are your abdomen and digestive tract. The cancer can essentially stop up your digestive system. This can result in a number of symptoms, including frequent constipation. Like the rest of this list, constipation on it's own is nothing to be concerned about. However, when it comes in conjunction with a number of other symptoms on this list, it could be the sign of something more serious.