Overlooked Warning Signs of "The Silent Killer" - Ovarian Cancer

With over 150,000 women dying from ovarian cancer each year, it's understandable why people would be frightened of it. As it's often not detected until it's too late to treat, it's one of the most frightening forms of cancer out there. If you do detect it early, however, doctors have a very high success rate at treating it; early detection saves lives. There is no one symptom that leads inexorably to a cancer diagnosis of course, but some symptoms do show up again and again in recently diagnosed ovarian cancer patients. If you have some of these symptoms, and there isn't an obvious cause for them, you should consider talking to your doctor.

#1 - Lower Abdomen or Pelvis Pain

Pain is a notoriously difficult symptom to diagnose--it's one of the least specific symptoms you can have. It is, at least, easy to recognize. If you have a sudden pain or unusual heaviness in your lower abdomen and pelvis, and there's no obvious external cause, it could be indicative of early-stage ovarian cancer.

#2 - Persistant Fatigue

When cancer spreads through someone's body, it often will drain their strength as it competes with their healthy cells. Everyday activities become more difficult, with loss of appetite, breathlessness, nausea and fatigue all very common symptoms. These symptoms could cover a large number of possible conditions, but they could also indicate a more progressed stage of cancer.

#3 - Unexplained Back Pain

Back pain can come from many possible sources--muscle sprains and arthritis are two very common causes, especially among the elderly. However, if there isn't an obvious cause, and the symptoms gradually get worse over time, it could easily be an early warning sign for ovarian cancer. If you can't find an external source, you should go to your doctor and have them check it out.

#4 - Unusual or Fluctiating Menstrual Cycles

While about 70 percent of ovarian cancer cases occur in women of age 55 or older, pre-menopausal women can get ovarian cancer as well. Any kind of major condition in your ovaries can wreak havoc on your menstrual cycle. If you're normally very regular, but thinks suddenly start dramatically changing, you should talk to a doctor immediately.

#5 - Uncomfortable or Painful Intercourse

Because ovarian cancer is located in the midst of your reproductive system, it's not surprising that pain or discomfort during sex could be a potential warning sign. If you have pain or pressure in your pelvis, and find yourself needing to go to the bathroom more often and more urgently, this could be a sign of ovarian cancer in its earliest stages. If you find yourself in pain when having intercourse relations, something clearly has gone wrong, and you should schedule a trip to your doctor.

#6 - Loss of Appetite

One of the most famous signs of any sort of cancer is a loss of appetite; it drains your energy and simply makes the thought of eating seem burdensome. A loss of appetite could just be a stomach flu or even a regular bad mood, but those tend to get better over time. If you find your appetite gone and not coming back, it could be a sign of a more serious condition.

#7 - Vomiting and Nausea

If you're vomiting or feeling nauseous for an extended period of time, you could have a serious condition. If it were just food poisoning or constipation, the nauseous feeling would pass relatively quickly. Advanced stages of cancer can actually block your intestines, which will cause issues up and down your digestive system. If your nausea comes with diarrhea or bloating, consults a physician.

#8 - Unusually Coarse Hair Growth

One of the more rare symptoms of ovarian cancer is excessive hair growth. A cyst in your ovaries can alter your hormonal balance, which can cause a number of symptoms throughout your body, including hair growth. It's rarer and most people with ovarian cancer do not experience it, but if you have dark and coarse hair growth, it's a cause for concern.

#9 - Constant Constipation

The abdomen and digestive tract are two of the earliest parts of your body to be effected by spreading ovarian cancer. It can essentially clog up your digestive system, causing a number of symptoms, including frequent and rather constant constipation. In and of itself, this symptom isn't something to be worried about, but when it appears in conjunction with some of the other symptoms on this list, it could be a cause for concern.

#10 - Belly Bloat

No list of ovarian cancer symptoms would be complete without listing bloating, when accompanied by general abdominal pain. It is by far the most familiar warning sign for ovarian cancer, when it lasts for days and weeks. A shorter period of bloating could be a relatively minor condition like IBS, but if it lasts for an extended period of time, you should consult a doctor.