Uncommon symptoms of ovarian cancer that should never be ignored
Ovarian cancer is a type of gynaecological cancer that begins in the ovaries — small organs in the female reproductive system responsible for producing eggs...
Ovarian cancer is a type of gynaecological cancer that begins in the ovaries — small organs in the female reproductive system responsible for producing eggs and hormones. The condition develops when abnormal cells in the ovaries or fallopian tubes grow and multiply out of control.
It is a significant health concern, being the eighth most common cancer among women worldwide. Ovarian cancer is often referred to as the ‘silent killer’ due to its tendency to exhibit few noticeable symptoms in its early stages, making it challenging to detect. Moreover, the symptoms of ovarian cancer are often confused with symptoms of other less severe illnesses, like gastrointestinal complaints, thereby leading to frequent misdiagnoses.
Common symptoms of ovarian cancer may include abdominal bloating or swelling, pelvic pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly, frequent urination, changes in bowel habits, and fatigue. While these symptoms are commonly associated with ovarian cancer, there are also uncommon symptoms to be aware of. It’s important not to ignore these symptoms and schedule a prompt visit with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.
In this blog, we will cover the not-so-common symptoms, risk factors, and diagnostic procedures associated with ovarian cancer. By recognizing these early symptoms, you can have a fighting chance to catch — and treat — the disease before it progresses.
Ovarian cancer can sometimes present with less common or ‘unheard’ symptoms that may not be widely recognized. It’s important to note that these symptoms are not exclusive to ovarian cancer and can also be caused by various other conditions. However, if you experience any of these symptoms persistently and they are concerning to you, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for proper evaluation.
Here are a few less common symptoms associated with ovarian cancer:
Persistent bloating or feeling of fullness in the abdomen, often accompanied by an increase in abdominal size that does not improve with dietary changes or over-the-counter remedies.
Abdominal or pelvic pain
Unexplained persistent or recurring pain in the abdomen or pelvis that is not related to menstrual cramps or digestive issues, and that lasts for an extended period.
Changes in bowel habits
Persistent changes in bowel movements, such as constipation or diarrhoea, or a sense of incomplete bowel movements, that persist for more than a few weeks.
In some cases, ovarian cancer can cause urinary symptoms like urgency (sudden and intense need to urinate), frequency (increased need to urinate), or incontinence (inability to control urination).
Loss of appetite or the sensation of fullness shortly after eating, even if you haven’t consumed a large amount of food.
Unexplained weight loss
Unintentional weight loss that occurs without changes in diet or exercise habits.
Persistent and unexplained fatigue that doesn’t go away after a good night of sleep or rest.
Chronic pain in the lower back, often on one side, that is not attributed to other causes.
Changes in the menstrual cycle
Ovarian cancer can sometimes cause irregularities in a woman’s menstrual periods, such as heavier or lighter bleeding than usual, or changes in the duration of the menstrual cycle.
Abnormal hair growth
Excessive facial or body hair on women (hirsutism) that is not typical for the individual.
Several risk factors are associated with ovarian cancer, including a family history of ovarian or breast cancer, certain genetic mutations, increasing age, never having been pregnant, obesity, and hormone replacement therapy. However, it’s important to note that ovarian cancer can occur in women without any known risk factors also.
Diagnosing ovarian cancer involves a combination of physical examinations, imaging tests, CT scan (computed tomography), blood tests (to look for a substance called CA-125), and ultimately, a biopsy to confirm the presence of cancer cells. Treatment and outlook depend on the stage of the disease progression and may include surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy. Early detection plays a vital role in improving treatment outcomes, highlighting the importance of being aware of the symptoms and seeking medical attention if any concerns arise.
Remember, these symptoms are not exclusive to ovarian cancer and can occur due to various reasons, and having one or more of them does not necessarily mean you have ovarian cancer. While it’s important to remember that these symptoms can occur for reasons other than ovarian cancer, it’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional if you experience any unusual or persistent symptoms.
Early detection of ovarian cancer is key to improving treatment outcomes, so it is crucial to pay attention to your body and seek medical advice if you have any concerns. Remember, it’s always better to err on the side of caution and address any potential health issues promptly.