Cancer is the second leading cause of death globally, and was responsible for 8.8 million deaths in 2015. Globally, nearly 1 in 6 deaths is due to cancer.
Ovarian cancer occurs when the cells of the ovaries develop tumors that become malignant. Though most common in postmenopausal women, more and more cases show increased prevalence in women in their 30s and 40s, perhaps even younger. Research out of the UK found that early detection of cancer can drastically increase your chance of survival, thus highlighting the importance of keeping an eye on your body and making regular visits to the doctor.
There is currently no one reliable test to detect Ovarian cancer: smear tests do not pick up malignant cysts, and even CA125 blood tests often give false negatives.
Another issue is that many of the symptoms are mistaken for other diseases, such as IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), leaving early stage tumors undiagnosed until they reach stage 3, where they can present as lumps in the abdomen and pelvic area.
New research shows that there are signs and symptoms of early-stage ovarian cancer, and as women, we must be observant and know when something is a red flag. Here are 4 early symptoms of Ovarian cancer to be on the lookout for:
- Consistent Bloating: If you notice that you’re becoming bloated consistently and often (frequently happening for more than three weeks), where you weren’t before, this could be a sign of cancerous tumors growing.
- Lower Abdominal and Pelvic Pain: Unusually pains in your lower abdomen and/or pelvic pain can be a symptom of Ovarian cancer.
- Feelings of Menstrual Cramps (not during menstruation): Think of all of the areas you may feel menstrual cramps – your lower stomach, pelvic region, perhaps even in your lower back. While pain during menstruation is normal, persistent pain that sticks around long after your period is gone (again, three weeks or more) could be a sign of Ovarian cancer. This one is especially important for pre-menopausal women to watch out for because it is so easily passed off for period pain.
- Difficulty eating/feeling full quickly: If you notice a significant decrease in your appetite for a span longer than three weeks, talk to your doctor. While this could be a sign of a whole host of stomach, intestine, and bowel issues, it also may signify cancer.
All of these symptoms are often mistaken for issues and diseases with the Gastrointestinal tract. If you find yourself experiencing any of these symptoms when you weren’t before, it is important to monitor their frequency and persistence. If they don’t go away after three weeks or more, make an appointment with your doctor to talk about getting checked for Ovarian Cancer.
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