Ovarian Cancer

Symptoms of Ovarian Cancer

ovarian cancer - what you need to know

All statistics and facts are compiled from the American Cancer Society and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

risk factors

Anything that increases your odds of contracting a disease is considered a risk factor for it. Interestingly, some women with few risk factors may contract ovarian cancer, while other women with more risk factors may not.

The fact of the matter is that ALL women, simply because they are women, are at risk for developing ovarian cancer. Therefore, all women should be on guard for its symptoms, which may be vague at first but typically increase in severity as the disease progresses.

Until there are accessible, accurate, early-stage diagnostics for ovarian cancer, knowing what one's own risk factors are and being aware of and vigilant for its symptoms are a woman's only defenses. The greatest hope of surviving ovarian cancer comes with early detection.

Pap tests DO NOT detect ovarian cancer. Women at every risk level should insist on being screened regularly, even though there is room for considerable error with current screening methods such as transvaginal ultrasonography, rectovaginal pelvic examination and genetic testing for BRCA mutations.

Risk factors for certain types of ovarian cancers can include:

symptoms of ovarian cancer

What makes ovarian cancer so unspeakably dangerous is that it is hardest to detect in its early stages. Sadly, only about 19% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed before the cancer has spread outside of the ovaries when the disease is most responsive to treatment.

To complicate matters, the ovaries are tiny organs buried deep within the abdomen, making the symptoms originating from them all the more difficult to detect and all the more likely to be confused for something far less serious. The more progressed the disease, the more pronounced the symptoms are likely to be.

The most common symptoms include:

Although these symptoms can also be indicative of benign conditions, they can suggest the presence of cancers in other organs. Symptoms that are out of the ordinary for you and that persist almost daily for 2 weeks or more should be brought to the immediate attention of your gynecologist.

Additional symptoms of ovarian cancer, which can also be symptoms of other conditions, include:


Can ovarian cancer be prevented?
Science is still far from knowing how to prevent ovarian cancer, but there is mounting evidence suggesting ways of reducing one's risk of developing the disease.


How is ovarian cancer diagnosed?
Unfortunately, 77% of ovarian cancer cases are diagnosed in an advanced stage, primarily because symptoms that present in the early stages of the disease are often subtle, misinterpreted, inconsistent or ignored. Even routine pelvic exams are unlikely to detect ovarian cancer when it is most treatable before it has spread beyond the ovaries.

The sooner ovarian cancer can be correctly diagnosed, the greater a woman's chances are of surviving it. Ovarian cancer may be uncommon, but it is especially deadly. That's why it is so important for women to be aware of the symptoms and keen to their possible presence at all times.

Screening tests.
Scientists and researchers continue to pursue reliable screening methods for the early detection of ovarian cancer. At present, there are a number of tests available that may be of some benefit to women at particular risk for the disease:

If preliminary screening methods suggest the presence of ovarian cancer, your healthcare provider may recommend conducting a CT scan, X-ray or biopsy to confirm results.

stages of ovarian cancer

Ovarian cancer is classified in chronological stages I through IV. Each stage can then be further classified into sub-categories. Should you be diagnosed with ovarian cancer, your doctor will be your best resource when it comes to understanding the full categorization and classification of your cancer.

The following chart provides an overview of the four basic stages of ovarian cancer:

All statistics and facts are compiled from the American Cancer Society and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute